Wednesday, November 30, 2011

God's Good Gifts to Us in 2011


God’s Good Gifts to Us in 2011

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” -James 1:17

Toddler giggles and sloppy kisses
Jumping on the trampoline with our grandchildren
Snuggling on the sofa to read stories
Looking at the trees with our grandchildren and singing,
“The Trees of the Field Clap Their Hands”
Making cookies to deliver to neighbors
Friends who show up on our doorstep
Long distance grandparenting via the internet
Liberty online adjunct professorship—a direct answer to prayer
Creative expression through art, music, and writing
An intimate relationship with God made possible through the blood of Jesus
A growing marital relationship of 35 years
Time away to refresh, reflect, and rehearse God’s faithfulness
Deerwood home to house missionary children coming and going
The Holy Spirit’s conviction, counsel, and comfort
Access to the throne room of God via prayer
A church family
Extended biological family
Counseling and writing ministries
Speaking opportunities
Contract for Eileen’s next novel, Second Chance
Couples who want to make their marriages work
and are experiencing God’s victory one day at a time
Good books
The Father’s lap
God’s grace and faithfulness in the midst of unresolved real estate issues
Closure on Dale Ave. property
Grown children who love and serve the Lord
Laughter and tears and memories
Witnessing opportunities
Marriage outreach through Total Life Counseling
Open doors to be ministers of reconciliation
Opportunities to enjoy God’s creation
Specific Scriptures that target specific needs in our lives
Quiet reflection
Critique partners who keep Eileen on task in her writing
Friends who know us, yet still love us.

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During this Christmas season, may your heart turn to the Giver of all good gifts.

From our house to yours: Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

Chuck & Eileen

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Lesson I Learned from a Turkey




I stood before a freezer full of turkeys at the grocery store. Scavenging through the assortment of Butterballs, I spotted a particularly plump fellow resting in the back of the unit. Since I was hosting around 12 guests for Thanksgiving dinner, I wanted at least a 15 pound foul to feed my crew. Greedy for that bird and in a hurry to get out of the store and on to the next errand, I fumbled through the front line of turkeys to reach the back. As I did, one of the smaller, yet equally solid birds in the front, slid from its resting place and landed squarely on my left foot. An immediate dance ensued to the tune of “Turkey on the Toe.” My little Rumpelstiltskin tirade got me nowhere. Busy, self-absorbed shoppers passed me right and left. Suddenly, I began to feel sorry for myself and very much alone. Even a little sick at my stomach.

Collecting myself, I threw the sorry turkey back into its stall and hobbled into the next aisle, telling myself I would shop for a turkey later. Rubbing my stinging toes, I reprimanded myself for being so greedy for that particular bird. In my pain, I slowed down and began to reflect on the previous days. As I pondered the richness of my life, I began to feel less hurried, less greedy for big bird in his frozen cage. I thought about what was really important to me. As I did, the Holy Spirit filled my mind with verses from Psalm 128 that I had learned years earlier.

How blessed is everyone who fears the Lord,
Who walks in His ways.
When you shall eat of the fruit of your hands,
You will be happy and it will be well with you.
Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine, (and so I had –parenthesis mine)
Within your house,
Your children like olive plants (indeed they were – parenthesis mine)
Around your table.

Greed turned to gratitude as I thought about my family. How God had blessed us because we revered Him above all! Our precious “olive plants” were now grown and pursuing God’s direction for their lives. Our oldest daughter, Rachel, was on her way to India, fulfilling a ten-year dream of becoming a career missionary. I thought about our second daughter, Michelle, who in a few short weeks would graduate from college with a degree in biblical counseling and marry a youth minister in the coming months. Together, she and Jonathan would serve the Lord in a new church plant in Pennsylvania. And then my mind drifted to my precious last-born, Stephanie, a senior in high school, who was earnestly seeking God’s will for the coming year.

And my heart was full. Overflowing, in fact. I was so grateful that my husband, Chuck, and I could have the privilege and responsibility of rearing three godly daughters with God’s grace and wisdom. We had drilled into them over their growing years that to glorify God in body, soul, and mind was their chief end. At each graduation we left them with the scriptural charge, “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth”(3 John 4).

In that moment, as shopping carts careened around me, I inwardly breathed a thank-you prayer to my Father for 20 years of home schooling my girls and 28 years of marriage to a godly, compassionate man. Somehow, in that inner moment, the size turkey I served on Thanksgiving Day seemed trivial in light of the many blessings God had just brought to my mind. Funny how God can use even a frozen turkey on a harried lady to quiet her heart, regain her perspective, and teach her a lesson about gratitude.

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Today, I'm a blessed wife of 35 years, a proud mother to three married daughters, mother-in-law to three godly sons, and the grandmother of Rebekah (5), Kylie (almost 5), Daniel (3), Ethan (almost 3), Hannah (1), and Gabriel (1). My grandchildren are now like olive plants around my table! www.eileenrife.com