Monday, April 25, 2011

Thankful Monday (306+)

Photo © Kari McGrath Photography

So, it's Monday. It was a good day. Kids were well behaved, house got "cleaned", errands got ran. However, my mood has not been so great the past few hours..not sure why..could be the diet (ah-why do lack of carbs leave me feeling grouchy?) , could be the weather (rainy and dreary), could be that doggone house in Kentucky still not selling. It could be the time I spent online today trying to find ideas for our new rental house (that we can't paint or hang anything with nails on the wall-are you feeling sorry for me yet?)...which I think left me more depressed, because of all the amazing ideas I found that require paint and nails.

I mean, it's small things like that that can throw my day, who has lived overseas and "suffered"through cold water showers and squatty potties to mention just a few things...those days seem too far away. Ack-and then I think of Chris and Evie Jones, committing the next 20 YEARS to plant a church in a tribe in Papau, New up everything. It's surprising God hasn't taken me yet. And, I don't say that lightly. I know it is ONLY the grace of God that I don't get struck with lightning or worse every time I step out my door. Pastor Larry says "We live under the smile of God." That comforts me, and you'd understand the depth of that if you saw inside my heart.

But, something has left me in a funk...a feeling sorry for myself, blah, moody funk. So, I think it's time today to start listing things God has given me, that I am thankful for. I have to get through the rest of the night...I still have dinner (well, it's in the oven) and exercising ahead of me tonight! Still have children to cuddle with, husband to serve. I need thankfulness, contentment. Once again, why do these things evade me so quickly? Why do I so quickly find myself going from good mood to "in the depths of despair?" (as Anne of Green Gables would say)

Yesterday celebrated not only our Lord's resurrection from the grave-He is Risen! Hallelujah! It also celebrated 31 years of salvation for me. He saved me, redeemed my life from the pit. At a young age, He called me unto Himself. Is that not reason enough to live life fully, with eyes wide open to every blessing that surrounds me? Do I ever need despair again? But, I do. And, I do it so quickly. Nothing major need set me off. 31 years of God's faithfulness and kindess and patience. Yes, I have MORE than I deserve. So, here I am, once again asking forgiveness, once again needing to remind myself of ALL He has given me, the big and "small" blessings. The need for peace in my heart and joy in all He has done.

"...that I'd day after day greedily take what looks like its good from Your hand-a child gloating over sweet candy...but that I'd thrash wild to escape when what You give from your hand feels bad-like gravel in the mouth. Oh, Father, forgive...Should I accept good from you, and not trouble?" (Job 2:10) (Anne Voskamp)

306. a free refrigerator for our new rental home

307. a free stove for our new rental home

308. a farmhouse to rent, complete with free range chickens (a country girl's delight)

309. that I KNOW (even when I don't FEEL) that His ways are higher than mine

310. a gift card to a local coffee shop

311. kids who are learning to be thankful, too

312. my dear friend, Elizabeth, who is always one step 'ahead' of me in learning to be content, and deals with life as it comes, steady in her emotions..a true gift of a friend to this 'too easily carried away with her emotions' gal

313. walls and a roof to protect us from the storms

314. running water

315. plenty of good food-we have never been hungry, not one day

316. hands to do dishes with-who needs a dishwasher anyways? :)

317. children with hands to do dishes :)

318. God's Word-a light to my path

319. our "vacation lake house" for the last nine months-what a refreshing time it has been

320. that I live under His smile, even when I KNOW I don't deserve it-what a gracious God He is

321. that my 'feelings' are not the end of the story

322. child hugs

323. that I have the freedom to homeschool

324. that we have so much stuff-we have been so blessed- we have to sell some of it or give it away several times a year

325. that this world is not my real home

326. carbohydrates..even in a small amount :)

327. big, strong, manly, yet tender (husband) hugs

328. fruit...thank you, God, for fruit!

329. baby turtles (I had never seen one before today..just a hatchling..the cutest thing!) Thanks for sharing, Devin!

330. ice in my drink (Europe doesn't know what they're missing!)

331. 31 years of God's saving grace

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Thankful Tuesday (301+) in Pictures

301. laughter

302. kids who love to read

303. coupons

304. my church

305. a husband who is always playing with our children

Lovely (Inexpensive) Kitchen Remodel

I love this kitchen, and it was fun to read how she did everything on a budget...and I'm a big fan of a budget! :) I got a lot of good ideas from it..not that I currently have a kitchen to redo..but for future reference. :)

Conversations with my 4-year-old

So, the other morning, 4 year old boy and I were talking in bed. And, he was talking about how God forgives his sins. So, I asked him (again), how his sins were forgiven, and reminded him it was only by the blood of Jesus Christ, shed for him. We talked about the cross and all Jesus went through on the cross, and it was a "moment." You know, one of those parenting moments when you feel like you're "getting through" and imparting such wisdom and God is working. One of those moments where your child will look back and ponder on when he's older. And, then he said, "Yes, Jesus died on the cross for my sins. Mom, was that, like, in the 80s?" :)

Monday, April 11, 2011


And, just one more song to share. This CD was given me by a friend recently, and I hadn't got a chance to listen to it until the other day. And, this song just kept getting played over and over in my car, while tears were streaming down my face.

Less Like Scars

This has been a sort of "theme song" for this past 8 months for me. I wish I could have found a better video, but couldn't. Anyhow, so glad God can take the scars and make them look more like character.

Get Real!

(yes, that's my laundry pile...on a GOOD day!)

So, I have had several people mention to me lately that they enjoy reading my blog, and I admit that I don't keep up on it as I should. Honestly, as I have told them, one of my excuses is that when times are rough, I either don't have it in me or don't feel I have anything "worthy" of sharing. And, each time I have heard (paraphrased), "that's when you SHOULD blog." And, I know that, but I realize I am not as flowery as Anne Voskamp. Her bad days still sound poetic and her honesty touches your soul. I'm afraid all I'll get out is "Um...I'm a mess and my day was crappy!" And, can you even say the "c" word and be a good Christian? :) But, I think of what Milton Vincent said when he wrote that the cross exposed him for who he was, and now he has nothing left to hide.

Is that what I'm doing? Hiding when days aren't so pretty? Am I only wanting to show my best side? And, is that wisdom or pride? I guess it would depend on the day and the struggle. So, I will make an effort to post even when I'm not doing so well, if I can bring God glory doing so. If I'm stuck in my flesh, you're better off not knowing...I'm afraid to bring you down, too!

The last eight plus months in Indiana has been overall amazing. We feel like God put us in our little lake house and He has refreshed and encouraged us. The church He brought us to, the people He has surrounded us with. We couldn't imagine being anywhere else. We continue to be amazed at all His grace. And, it flows from these people we're surrounded by. Grace and mercy and humility. And, I am often brought to tears with gratefulness.

The past few months, however, have had their ups and downs. People from our past failing "us" again, and causing us to do some serious soul-searching, and dealing with hurts and even opening up new ones. And, struggling and fighting in our souls, and hurting and healing. But, God revealing himself more through it all. And, dealing with the stress of a house being on the market for nine months and having to find a new rental for this season, and remaining content through it all..and I don't always do so well.

My faith is so small. And, why? My God is so big. I KNOW that. I have been through this before. Really? The same struggle? I wonder how He doesn't get weary of me. I am easily tempted with despair..either over a situation or over my reaction to a situation. And, then the serpent comes and whispers "how can you even be saved? He must be growing weary of you. " And, then the words of that hymn come and fill my soul.."when satan tempts me to despair and tells me of the guilt within, upward I look and see Him there, who made an end to all my sin. Because the sinless Savior died, my sinful soul is counted free, for God the just is satisfied to look on Him and pardon me." And, grace fills me again, and renewed hope. And, then I wake up the next day and sometimes it starts all over again. And, our pastor reminded us on's WAR. Satan is seeking whom he may devour. And, I have felt hotly pursued at times recently. (in my light, momentary afflictions)

The other day I told Shane I felt like God was holding me in his hands and "crushing me." And, then He speaks to, not crushed. And, He reminds me of 2 Corinthians..."But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies." He says, "go back to the cross, Kari. Carry with you my death daily. Preach to yourself." And, I don't...I listen to myself too much. As I tell Shane, "the voices are baaaaack." And, doesn't it seem that way sometimes, like the voices just keep going on and on and tempting you to despair and it's all you can do to fight them, let alone do your laundry and love others and serve your family?

And, so, that's the truth about me. That's real. But, as great a sinner as I am, He is a GREATER Savior. And, I keep thinking my strength has run out, I have no more faith, that I am at the end of my rope, and then I wake up okay again...with peace. And, it's all grace.

1000 Gifts (268+)

"It's ridiculous how much joy a moment can hold." (Anne Voskamp)

268. the comfort of old friends and a weekend with some dear ones

269. the smell of a baby

270. a gift card to a coffee shop-from a friend, because she had it and thought I needed it more than her

271. the chance to treat my sister to coffee shop on said gift card and time with her and good conversation and getting to know her better

272. free swim Monday

273. free swim at hotel

274. goodwill clothes

275. kids learning to be thankful

276. our lifegroup-and getting to know them better

277. passing the Indiana driving (written) test the first time

278. a backrub from my daughter today, just because I was a bit stressed and she knew, and she showed me grace

279. a text from a friend at just the right time, because God had put me on her heart, because He knew what I needed...the tears it brought to my eyes that HE knew

280. peace

281. laughter with my two sweet friends tonight at free swim...I'm so thankful that God gives me such wonderful ladies to know and maybe even HUG (wink, wink, H!)

282. good books to spur me on

283. for victory this week

284. for those who have gone before us, and left their stories so we don't feel so alone or helpless

285. thunderstorms

286. he still loves me...after all these years

287. new jeans, half price...thanks, sis

288. wood ceilings..gorgeous and warm and comforting

289. 8 months "vacation" in our lake house...I will miss it

290. generous people in God's kingdom, who have much and give much

291. two church families offering us to live with them if we needed...though we may not need it, both times it brought tears to my eyes, because of their graciousness and the healing that brings to our hearts, though they may not even know it

292. that nothing in our lives will be unredeemed

293. that "the pain and hurt look less like scars and more like character" in His hands

294. I am a great sinner, but have a greater Savior

295. cheeseburger soup on a low carb diet

296. honey dijon almonds

297. opening windows to let spring breezes in

298. lessons from years gone by

299. three people looking at our KY house last week

300. daily provision

Educating our Children

(photo © kari mcgrath 2010)

"...Because what will the math really matter if they are bitter? If the house is immaculate — but my attitude a mess? If they can count — but they don’t know how to count all things as joy? If we get the lists done, but have lost happiness in Him? How can any grammar skill outweigh the fact they don’t know the language of grace and thanks? What good will it be if they can recite all the major British battles — but they don’t know to see beauty? What am I teaching our children if I’m not living simply, quietly this: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Phil. 4:8). Focusing on what is beautiful, good, true –isn’t this the truest education?..." (Anne Voskamp, "How to (help) Raise Grateful Kids")

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Thoughts on Hospitality (link)

(photo © kari mcgrath 2010)

"...Ultimately, hospitality is not limited to a space or time. It matters not how large your home is or how generous your table settings. It is rather a lifestyle of generosity. It asks with each purchase: “can this be used to bless others?” When we evaluate our budget and spending, it asks: “How can we live more simply so we can have extra means to pour love on others?” It steps back at the beginning of each week and instead of focusing on ourselves, it starts by asking: “Who can I bless this week? What is one practical way I could minister to another?” The more we plant these thoughts and seeds, the more they will become a passion of our hearts. And in this process, we will be storing up treasures in heaven rather than on this moth infested earth.

Cultivating a lifestyle of generosity ignores perfection and entertaining. As Pat Ennis says, “Entertaining focuses on having a beautiful table decor or preparing gourmet food. Biblical hospitality is a demonstration of love. Food and other elements are merely tools used to express our love for people. Our motivation for being hospitable is a response to God’s work in our lives.” We have been recipients of such merciful grace through Christ’s work on the cross, and thus practicing hospitality and generosity is an outpouring of love and the joy that we have experienced as partakers of God’s grace. It is an overflow. Thus our focus should not be on the perfect meal or presentation, but on letting others see a glimpse of Christ in our hearts..." (Passionate Homemaking Blog)

Monday, April 04, 2011

1000 Gifts (241+)

(photo © kari mcgrath 2009)

"..I am a woman who speaks but one language, the language of the fall-discontentment and self-condemnation, the critical eye and the never learn how to be grateful and happy, whether hands full or empty. That is a secret worth spending a life on learning..." (Anne Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts)

241. hot showers

242. "quiet time" with God in the midst of the craziness of the morning

243. 4 year old hugs

244. salad with strawberries and chicken

245. time getting to know some sweet ladies a little deeper

246. sweet, cuddly babies and the way they smell and the comfort they bring and the way their smiles can brighten your day

247. helpful girls..I don't have to do it all alone

248. computer math make up for my weak points

249. knowing I was made for more, and God's grace to walk that out

250. no laundry on the least for the one hour left in this day :)

251. dishes least for the next eight hours

252. knowing that a pile of dishes tomorrow means my children are with me and are well fed

253. knowing that a pile of laundry on the floor tomorrow means we are well clothed and have more than maybe we need

254. cilantro cream chicken

255. me a bit more time in my week

256. for the hope that lies ahead

257. knowing that God does not change..and being able to look back and see good and have hope of good for the future

258. to be able to feel "at home" in a place that is not "our" home, and where we don't even have our "stuff"...but to know that we are home because God gave us this place for this season, and it has been above and beyond what we could have asked or thought

259. the strength, from God, to say no to what is not beneficial for me for the last four days..only by His grace

260. for L and G and the way they minister to our souls and say words that bring encouragement and comfort, and make me cry and be so thankful for all God has done in bringing us here, because of His grace..and they show His grace

261. for H bringing me "Made to Crave"..God knowing just what I needed and speaking to me and showing me there is a higher way, and giving me daily strength

262. for my camera and the gifts God has given me and showing me who He is through my lens, and giving me peace with who He's made ME to be, and peace not to compare myself so much, and peace to let go for a season and just enjoy

263. my man, who never ceases to amaze me with the way he looks at me and loves me and wraps his arms around me..and he knows me too well..and he keeps loving me anyways..

264. for God's word, that pierces to my marrow, and exposes me, but doesn't leave me naked and cold, rather shows me I'm covered by the blood...and I'm free..and I'm longer an object of wrathe..because of Christ

265. the warm down comforter I will crawl under soon tonight

266. the warm man I will lie next to soon tonight

267. God's provisions for TODAY

268. the children that will crawl into bed with us in the morning, just to be near us, to cuddle..the remembering that they are GIFTS

My Prayer Today for Gratitude and Humility

(photo © kari mcgrath 2009)

Lord, today may I "sit on the ground before you", make myself low. Lord, make me a woman out of whom gratitude for your good gifts flows. May my gratitude be an overflow of a humble heart.

God, forgive me of pride-of an ungrateful, complaining spirit. Forgive me for being too often wrapped up in myself and thinking much of me and little of others. God, I whine and I become resentful when things don't go my way or I don't understand. Yet, I know you oppose the proud-you literally "stiff-arm" the proud. You keep them at a distance.

God, help me to humble myself, so that you will draw near to me and pour your grace today into my life. Cleanse and purify my heart, Lord. Give me victory over the "noisy, demanding tyrant of self." Enable me, by your spirit, to be a thankful woman, even when the circumstances surrounding me may not change.

God, teach me to be "wrapped up in Christ." Teach me, God, to think much of you and of others, and think little, if at all, of myself. God, anything I have is better than I deserve. Anything you provide is more than I deserve. God, you owe me nothing. Forgive me of ever feeling I am entitled to more. Forgive me of feeling I deserve an easy life. Forgive me of wanting everyone to love me or treat me well. I think too highly of myself, God.

Lord, I am so prideful. I am so weak. My faith is so small. Teach me your ways. Forgive me for doubting your goodness, of thinking I can trust myself better than you. Make me a woman after your heart, God. Make me a woman who knows you and trusts you. I believe, help my unbelief!

(personal prayer adapted from p. 183-184, "Choosing Gratitude" by Nancy Leigh DeMoss)