Praise Project, Week 4

This is what I’m praising God for this week:

1. For the discipline to get some much-needed writing done. I feel like I’m back in the game!

2. For little nuggets in Scripture I’ve read a thousand times and am just now seeing for the first time.

3  For the day off. I never get Fridays off!

4. That Bible study has finally started back up. If you’re like me, structured group study helps motivate personal study.

5. That God’s goodness to me is not dependent on my goodness to Him.

6. For friends who push me out of my comfort zone.

7. That in 8 weeks I’ll be in sunny California! I hope the sun is hotter there.

Pigs and Poo and Such

Before my family and I moved to our current home, we lived in a house about 15 minutes outside of town. One of the great things about this house was the gate that connected our backyard to the backyard of a family we became good friends with.  To know this family was to love them, and to love them was to love their pig.

I will never forget the day my husband and I drove with them about two hours away to buy a potbelly pig as a surprise gift for their three kids. Taking one look at this bundle of snuggly black sweetness, I fell instantly in love. His baby oinking was no less cute than a kitten’s mew or a puppy’s cry. Completely spellbound, I cuddled him all the way home in the car before grudgingly handing him over to three excited kids.

Albert, as he became known (thanks to my naming prowess) grew and grew and grew. He also spent quite a bit of time in my backyard, snout to the ground snorting up every last piece of blooming weed (wow, that doesn’t sound good!). I loved it. Free lawn care! I also loved Albert. However, he had a mind of his own. Like any human baby, his cuteness started to dim in the light of his attitude, and I had had more than one altercation with this pig.

On one particular day, he was in my backyard snorting up weeds (there’s got to be a better way to say this!) his tail wagging happily. His owners were gone, and I was “keeping an eye on him.”  About an hour into “pig sitting” my next-door neighbor knocked on my door and through the screen beckoned me outside.

“Kathryn, you need to get out here,” she said. “The pig is eating my neighbor’s cherry tomatoes!”

I couldn’t believe it. Where was my head? How’d Albert get out of the backyard? Apparently, someone left the side gate open, and to this day no one’s claiming responsibility for that. No matter. I had bigger problems. Sure enough, there he was inhaling as many cherry tomatoes as he could his tail never missing a beat as it swung back and forth like a pendulum.

Letting out a screech I ran back home and grabbed a box of cereal. This usually worked in getting him to move in the direction you want him to move. But this time he wasn’t budging. Why eat dry cereal when you can have someone else’s ripe tomatoes?

What I did next still baffles me, but desperate times call for desperate measures. I sprinted at that pig like an Olympian and hoisted him up into my arms and out of the vegetable garden. Albert bore absolutely no resemblance to his former cuteness. Gone was the tiny black body replaced by about 100 pounds of flesh and a body full of black prickly hair. His baby oink became what you’d expect from a grown male pig: loud and not cute.

My neighbor starred in awe at first as I attempted to wrangle this creature into submission. I moved as quickly as I could given the sheer heft I was carrying. I huffed and puffed. He oinked and screeched. And then it happened. A warm, wet, gloppy substance ran down my leg. In disbelief I looked at my neighbor, whose head was now thrown back in silent laughter, then back at the pig.

“You stupid pig,” I yelled. “You pooped on my leg!”

Did I really think informing him of his transgression would elicit remorse? First, he knew what he’d done. Second, he so didn’t care. With the strength of a Viking, I ran that pig through my house, out my sliding door, through my backyard and into his own slamming the gate behind me. And then I cried at the grossness running down my legs.

What could this possibly have to do with anything spiritual, you ask? I was reminded of this story earlier this week as I thought about my relationship with the Lord. There are so many times He gently nudges me to move in a direction, that quite frankly I have no desire to move in. I get stuck in my rut with how I spend my time, what I consider a priority and what my goals are.

I often joke that when my husband is in the middle of a graduate class his focus is so razor sharp that the kids and I could be slaying each other with sharp objects and he’d never catch it. He’s that focused.

I’m not so different. Sometimes I can be coaxed into obedience by God’s gentle nudgings. Other times, He’s left with no choice but to pick me up and move me Himself despite my kicking and screaming. Do I behave as irrationally as a pig being moved out of a vegetable garden against their will? Do I look that ridiculous? Am I as pigheaded as a pig? Are you? Just something to think about.

Praise Project, Week 3

This week I’m praising God for:

 

1). The 2 1/2 days I got to spend with my sister and her family. Love you guys!

2). Teachers who hold my kids accountable and push for excellence

3). Jehovah Jireh, my Provider.

4). The fact that He continually pursues me despite my pigheadedness (which you will be able to read about in my next post).

5). Finding someone that has a clue as to how a Mac works. I think I’ve hit the jackpot on this one!

6). Budgetbytes.com as I’m hoping it will revolutionize my horrible cooking. So far so good! You have to visit this site. Her opening line is “I am broke, and I love to eat.” How I can relate.

7). A partner to do the hardest job on the planet with-parenting.

 

What are you praising God for this week? What big things and little things has He done for you? I’d love to know. Have a great week.

Praise Project, Week 2

This week I’m praising God for the following:

1). Grocery stores that still sell food at a reasonable price! (Thank you, Aldi)

2). The sun b/c it gives me hope for spring.

3). The fact that it isn’t getting dark before 5:00! Again, spring is coming!!!

4). Being part of a church that is 100% committed to reaching the community it is a part of. Thank you, Riverside!

5). The freedom we have in my city to openly proclaim Christ. A big sign reading “Jesus Is” greets everyone coming into this city from I-74.

6). Finally decoding the mystery to a 44-year old health issue.

7). Free shoes! With sparkles!

 

365 Days of Praise

A couple of weeks ago I was talking to a woman at church and casually asked her how she’d been. Her response, though simple and common, struck a chord with me. “Can’t complain,” she said smiling. I’ve heard this answer often so why did it haunt me for days this time around?

When I look at a painting very often I see the negative space first before the actual picture. In my bedroom hangs a large picture depicting a tropical scene. At the front of the scene is a boardwalk lined with palm trees leading out to the water. At night when the lights are out and I lay there staring at it trying to sleep, I don’t see the palm trees or the sky or the boardwalk. Instead, the palm fronds resemble the feathers of a fancy calligraphy pen which are the hair of a female figure hovering above the water. Quite frankly, it creeps me out. I literally have to sit there and concentrate on picking out the various aspects of the picture that I know are there but can’t see as clearly.

This is how life is for those of us who see everything through a half-empty glass. Never mind what’s left in the glass. All we see is what’s gone! One of the things that God really challenged me with last month was to pick out the good in my life despite my situation. It sounds elementary, but hey some of us are so simple-minded. What choice does He have but to start with the simple things? So with that in mind, I’m starting what I’m calling The Praise Project: 365 Days of Praise.

Here are the details:

1). Every week, starting with this one, you will get seven things I’m praising God for all on one day. Originally, I thought I would post one thing everyday, but for those of you who are subscribers. Getting a post from me everyday in your inbox, even if it is only one sentence, is akin to getting a notice from the local grocery store everyday about a different item that’s on sale . It’s great information, but for heaven’s sake, can’t they just put it all in one ad? Then, if you’re not interested in reading you can push delete once a week instead of every day of the week. You can thank me later.

2). While being thankful is great, praising God is better. What do I mean? “I’m thankful for…” concentrates more on the object of thanks rather than the One who provided that which you’re thankful for. “I’m praising God for…” forces me to recognize who it is that is the giver of all good gifts, and that He is good no matter what I’m going through. This is a big one for me as I tend to run down the rabbit trail leading to thoughts that God is out to get me and make my life miserable.

3). These posts will be short sweet and to the point and will not take the place of my usual (albeit sporadic) posts.

4). If you saved a dollar a day everyday for a year, you’d have $365. Not a lot of money, but you’d be shocked at what I could do with $365! In the same way, praising God for something different everyday for a year is like setting up a spiritual savings account. At the end, you can go back and see the faithfulness of God, the goodness of God and recognize just how rich you are because of what He has given you.

5). There will be no repeats. Some of the things I list will be big, some small. But they will all be different.

6). I really hope you will join me. Leave a comment of what you’re praising God for, or don’t. At least write it down and tell someone everyday what God has done. Let’s be like the Wave at a football game that ripples around the stadium in one beautiful synchronized movement. If ever we needed to be more in tune to the goodness of God and His active involvement in our lives, it’s now!

This week I’m praising God for:

 

  1. Time off from the daily grind
  2. A furnace that works
  3. Living close to the local hospital/ER department
  4. My daughter’s recovery from being so sick
  5. My job
  6. The freedom I have to share Christ on the internet via social media.
  7. A husband who is willing to drive me to and from work on his snow day because he “wants to be in charge of my safety.”

 

There you have it. Week one of The Praise Project. Look back over your week. What are you praising God for?

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise-the fruit of lips that confess his name” (Hebrews 13:15, NIV).