Thursday, November 14, 2013

In the Spirit of Giving Thanks...

During the month of November, many friends on facebook start listing one thing per day that they are thankful for. It is fun to read them all! With the holiday season in full swing, it is the time of year for reflecting, slowing down, and truly being thankful for what we have.

Over the last several weeks, I read a popular book called One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp (for more info, check out the website: In the book the author finds joy in giving thanks for ALL things after she is encouraged by a friend to literally write down 1,000 gifts. So, I started doing the same thing. Instead of narrowing the list down to only 28, I thought I would share the ones I have so far here.
(And after a slightly stressful day, it is SO good to be reminded of just how much I have to be thankful for...and this is only the beginning!) :D

Even though a lot of the things I've listed are trivial, I have been so blessed by writing them down to say Thank You, Lord. So many times I PRAY for trivial things but forget to say thanks just as much--and every BREATH is a gift (see Bonhoeffer quote below)! So enjoy...maybe this will help us all to consider how many gifts we really have been given...

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father..." ~James 1:17
"You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!" ~Psalm 30:11-12
"We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet not so small) gifts. How can God entrust great things to one who will not thankfully receive from Him the little things?" ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer
"When I realize that it is not God who is in my debt but I who am in His great debt, then dowsn't all become gift?" ~One Thousand Gifts

1. Good, hard sleep
2. Warm coffee early in the morning
3. Quiet time before work
4. Good books
5. The heart at the bottom of my "Mrs." coffee mug
6. "Thoughts on Prayer" desk calendar that I get to flip each morning when I get to work
7. Music that feeds the soul
8. Ice cold water from a straw
9. Rezan, the Compassion child we get to support
10. Saying "I love you" and hearing it back
11. Smiling
12. Ripe bananas-sweet
13. Beautiful fall weather
14. Wearing sweaters
15. Lotion on parched hands-soothing
16. Lunch breaks
17. My job
18. Having work to do
19. Kisses after a day at work
20. Peeling away spaghetti squash from the shell
21. Hot showers
22. Running my fingers through husband's hair
23. Long sleeve t-shirts
24. The flickering flame of a candle
25. The warmth of clothes fresh out of the dryer
26. Friendships formed at work
27. Faded jeans
28. "Good morning"s
29. Breaking open a new pack of post-it notes
30. Candy corn
31. White-out, erasing my mistakes--Your blood, washing my sins white as snow!
32. The feel of a good stretch
33. Riding with the windows down
34. Leftovers for dinner
35. Bubble baths
36. Forgiveness-the grace to give and receive
37. Learning how to love-truly love
38. Safe travels to and from work
39. The sound of the ocean-even if our sound machine is as close as it gets
40. Laughter
41. The tough work of breaking down walls and bringing understanding
42. The click of a pen
43. The poetry of words
44. The sound of clothes tumbling in the dryer
45. Colorful scarves
46. The swirl of creamer in my coffee
47. Jar of pennies
48. Waking up refreshed
49. Comfy pajama pants...feeling relaxed before getting dressed for the day
50. Time together with Phil
51. Painted sunrise-all pink and golden and blue
52. The sun-a big ball of fire shining golden rays of warmth
53. Dreams, goals
54. Sunglasses
55. Crossing off days on my calendar--a reminder that each day is a gift!
56. Feeling more organized at work
57. Getting off early
58. Mom and Dad, and being able to call them "Mom" and "Dad"
59. Dad's job-allowing them to move up here
60. Having a guest room and bed where he can stay
61. Sweet fellowship with believers
62. Cheesy group hugs
63. Cotton sheets
64. Hearing Your Word read aloud
65. Compliments on my yellow flowery scarf that Phil gave to me
66. Twirling my hair on the shower wall--reminding me that You know the number of hairs on my head even when some fall out! Ha!
67. Being able to slow down and truly enjoy small group tonight-learning to be in the moment
68. When Phil shakes his head at me when I am being goofy
69. Sleepy smiles across pillows
70. Sappy videos
71. Happy tears
72. My purple robe, all silky-reminding me of the precious friends who gave it to me and that I am "robed" in the righteousness of Christ!
73. How Phil looks so handsome dressed for work
74. How he lets me sleep those few extra minutes
75. Ibuprofen for aches
76. The warmth of papers fresh off the copier
77. Counsel from Godly women
78. A good marriage (not from anything in us--it is truly a gift from Your hand!)
79. Friends sharing good news with us
80. Twins!
81. Fridays
82. Buying a new book with Phil's "go for it" response--two gifts in one!
83. Parking spaces
84. Birthday cake
85. When Phil sings and makes me laugh
86. American flag waving in breeze
87. Blinding sun
88. A dog racing to get a ball
89. Using up all the ink in a pen
90. The warning that my tires need changing-protection-it's all grace!
91. The means to be able to buy new tires
92. The kindness of strangers
93. The country accents of the men in the car shop
94. Sitting outside to eat dinner on a gorgeous evening
95. Trees and greenery--North Carolina is so beautiful!
96. Birds chirping outside my window this morning
97. Not waking up to an alarm
98. Phil laughing in his sleep
99. Puffs of steam coming from hot coffee
100. Sitting before an open window in the morning
101. Watching movies on Friday night
102. Reese's ice cream
103. Little girls with long blonde curls
104. Sweet texts that make me smile
105. Yellow flowers by the road
106. Praying with fellow believers
107. Old men on porches
108. Little girls painting nails
109. Turning the last page in a book
110. Little boy in cowboy hat
111. Brilliant red of a fallen leaf
112. Saturday naps
113. Bed
114. Having family close
115. Summit Church
116. Little girls with glasses
117. Cute pregnant bellies
118. Brownies
119. Gardens
120. Pink roses
121. A moment between college sweethearts
122. A beautiful voice singing
123. Answered prayers
124. Worship
125. White picket fences
126. Open windows
127. Like mindedness
128. Goodbye hugs
129. Working printers
130. Phil playing football with neighborhood kids
131. Flipping a new page on the calendar
132. Phil, all dressed and ready for work, laying down beside me to wake me up
133. Laughing til tears come
134. A fresh start
134. Pumpkin muffins
135. Phil and Jered planning stuff for the weekend
136. Taking about Scripture with Phil
137. Good hair days
138. Airplanes in the night sky
139. Eating out on a whim
140. Coupons to save money
141. Flowers picked up on the way home
142. Hands raised in worship
143. Playing frisbee in the park
144. Surprises
145. Coming in last at mini golf-ha!
146. Silly faces Layla makes
147. Safe travels
148. Dad being here
149. Access to healthcare
150. Being healthy
151. Talking to my sister(s)
152. State fair
153. Ferris wheel ride
154. Deep fried oreos
155. Kettle corn
156. Campfires
157. Paperclips
158. Dad saving me a piece of fish to try
159. Fireplace
160. Heater
161. Fall flowers
162. The crunch of fallen leaves
163. Good morning hugs
164. An extra hour of sleep for fall back weekend
165. Finding a new friend
166. Skyping with Brittany
167. Sewing kit and "lessons" from Mom
168. Walks with Mom
169. Fletcher
170. Local honey
171. Dinner with family
172. Borrowing books
173. Orange fall purse
174. Pumpkin scented candle
175. Christmas in the air
176. Planning June trip with cousins
177. Ripped jeans
178. Bridges
179. Lakes, with colorful trees all around
180. Driving into the sunset
181. Talking on the phone with a friend
182. Old t-shirts
183. Rest
184. Good news at work
185. Hamburgers cooked with love
186. Puzzles
187. The Olde English Tea Room
188. Talking with Mema and Pepa
189. Yarn
190. Sunday shopping
191. Finding a Christmas town at the dollar store
192. Packing a shoe box for Operation Christmas Child
193. Sending early Christmas gifts
194. Flowers and cards
195. Making Christmas wreath
196. Candles all through the house
197. Borrowed nativities
198. Kayla Bugg asking how we are doing up here
199. Fried egg sandwich
200. Lovely curtains adding color to a room
201. Mismatched furniture somehow looking just right-our home
202. Having such a good weekend together I didn't want him to go to work
203. Hearts and xoxo's written in chalk
204. Clutter-remnants of making memories
205. Freedom in this country
206. The veterans (including my Daddy!) who bought that freedom
207. Finding out I CAN be crafty
208. Buttons
209. Snuggles, even at 5am!
210. Shoes on sale
211. Bulletin board
212. Food in the fridge and pantry
213. Yummy chili
214. Warm vest
215. Good memories of my parents
216. Pea coat
217. Abreva to put on my cold sore
218. International Justice Mission and the work they do in Jesus' name to set captives free!
219. Your Word being present even in the darkest places, like North Korea
220. Knit blanket
221. Silly jokes
222. A car that gets me where I need to go
223. Ice cream from Lumpy's
224. Looking forward to a visit home
225. My home church

25% of the way to 1,000!

Thank You, Lord, for all these and more...

What are YOU thankful for, friends? :)

Friday, May 3, 2013

I'm done... by the grace of God!

At around 3:45 this afternoon, I submitted my final assignment as an undergraduate student at Mercer University. I'm finished! And what a journey it has been... 

Who would have thought, on the day I moved my stuff into a little dorm room in Porter Hall (pictured below) that I would change my major from nursing to psychology, meet great friends who inspired me greatly, develop a heart for people in other nations, meet the love of my life who God would use to further shape that same desire for missions, and lose two other loved ones? 

I couldn't have even imagined. 

But God did. 

A familiar passage that played a huge part in my testimony has come to mind over the last few days. (My father-in-law also quoted this on the eve of our wedding, revealing that it is a passage that has meant a lot to Phil over the years as well.)

"11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare[a] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord..." -Jeremiah 29:11-14a

As I wrap up a chapter in my life, it is bittersweet. 

It is sweet. I am beyond thankful for the lessons I've learned at Mercer, the experiences I've had, the friends I've known, loved, and learned from. 

It is a little bitter, too. I get a little teary thinking about my parents at a time like this. I wish they were here, to see me at this point in life. I wish I could look them in the eyes and tell them THANK YOU for the part they played in it. For now, I will simply whisper a word of thanks to God for having wonderful parents like them. 

You see, I am more convinced now than ever that God is so loving, so faithful, and so GOOD. All along, He knew what would happen, and all along, He was weaving together a plan for my good and His glory. There was a time about a year ago, right after my mom passed away, that I seriously did not know how I was going to go on. But God has ALWAYS been faithful to me. Through Him and the prayers and support of so many, I've made it to this day. 

I am typing this in the home I share with my wonderful husband and I am reminded of how much God has blessed my life just through him. (And that's only ONE example of God's graciousness in my life!) We are excited and hopeful as we look into the future God has for us. 

We have only been married less than two months, and we feel blessed beyond measure. We had so much love poured on us in the months leading up to the wedding, during the celebration, and afterwards. God continues to provide and will continue still. We have everything we need. 

With that said, I want to share something that has been heavy on my heart lately. I have everything I need, but there are millions around the world who don't. I am free, but there are millions around the world who are not. (For more information, go to I don't know what it is like to be in literal captivity, but I do know what is like to be in a seemingly hopeless place. I believe God has a heart for the hopeless and oppressed (Psalm 103:6). I believe He is a just God who works out His plan in every situation. 

I want to join Him in this work of justice for those who are oppressed. I want to celebrate my graduation from college by doing this. Instead of gifts and money for graduation, I would love to see God use me and others to bring justice and hope for those who have none. The International Justice Mission is an organization that works daily to make this happen. In their core commitments, they make this statement: 

In the tradition of heroic Christian leaders like abolitionist William Wilberforce and transformational leaders like Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King, Jr., IJM's staff stand against violent oppression in response to the Bible's call to justice (Isaiah 1:17): Seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow. (

Would you consider joining me in helping this organization bring justice for the oppressed? I want to celebrate my college graduation with this BECAUSE it is only by the grace of God that I made it through! He is so good and faithful, and I want others to be free and know this God as well!

The link below will take you directly to my campaign page, where you can make a donation for freedom! Be sure to take a look at what IJM does. (Just for one example, they actual raid brothels and rescue girls from slavery! WOW!)

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and thank you for joining me in funding and praying for the IJM and organizations like it that seek justice! 

All for His glory.