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He GIVES and takes away (June 29, 2011)

     Christianity claims that having a relationship with Jesus Christ will totally and completely fill the void that each of us longs to fill.  Most try to fill it with money, family, food, relationships, get the point.  I however, was (and am) a Christian and yet for the longest time I still felt like something was missing.  I listened to sermon after sermon and read book after book and they all said the same thing. Read the bible more. Pray more. Go to church.  I did all three.  I forced myself to read the bible as close to daily as possible, I tried to figure out what the heck it meant to "pray continually" and I went to church regularly.  Still, it seemed like others had something I didn't.  Every time I heard the salvation message, I told myself I already believe...I don't need to go forward.  Yet, there was this other part of me that doubted.  Was I really saved?  
     Recently, things changed.  I am in a new place.  I am experiencing true and full joy.  I am enjoying my children, my home, and to put it quite simply - daily life.  I still have bad days.  I still get frustrated with myself, my husband and my children.  I still make mistakes.  But, something is different.  I am happier, I bounce back quicker, and I don't beat myself up quite as much.  What made the difference?  Well, the easiest thing to say would be "giving thanks", but I had tried to do that too.  It wasn't until I read the book, "One Thousand Gifts" that I began to experience the fullness of the Christian life.  Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that Ann Voskamp's book is scripture (or anything close to it).  The bible is still "where its at".  God just used Ann's book to reveal a few truths that I had skimmed over in the Word.  What were they? God is good.  He pours out unending blessings on our lives - daily.  For the most part, we are blind to them.  We have allowed pain, sickness, broken relationships harden us.  Our hands are clenched.  We are not open to receive the gifts that God is giving.  We are too busy, too rushed, to distracted to even notice.  The gifts He gives are EVERY WHERE.  They are simple, they are complex, they are amazing.  When I began to open my eyes to all that God is giving, God (and His word) became much more attractive to me.  I no longer have to force myself to spend time in the word (most days) or in prayer - actually I long for more time to focus solely on Him.  Now, when I sing "Blessed be the Name of the Lord" it is not a struggle.  I used to sing it fearfully wondering what He was going to take away next.  Now, I am so amazed at all that he gives.  He GIVES and takes away.
     What gifts am I speaking of?  A quick glance around the room will reveal a few - the light reflecting off the pond in our back yard - the pretty plant on our table - my precious daughter asleep in her boppy - the cereal (and other provisions) in our pantry - running water - fruit baskets - artwork - flowers - birds chirping.  Ok, I am going to force myself to stop.  I could fill pages with all of the things that God gives us (actually I already do in my blog).  Then, there are all of the special moments that God so graciously gives.  A friend looking across the room and flashing a genuine smile, a pet curling up in our lap, a child giggling, a kiss, an evening walk, an opportunity to help - TIME.  For so long I was in a rush.  Getting the children ready, for example , was often quite stressful.  I'd go in their room, get them dressed as quickly as possible - often getting frustrated with them for poking around, and then we'd head to the breakfast table.  The morning looks soooo much different now.  I bring their clothes in, sit down on their rocking chair (another gift from God)  and sing a few songs.  The boys clap and dance and laugh and beg for more.  Which, on most days, I do.  We tidy up their room together, often stopping to read a book they come across or play with a toy they are going to put away.  Even on days that we have to be somewhere early, I am still much more relaxed.  I try to go in their room earlier than I need to so that we can still have that special morning time.  Then, all throughout the day I am on the lookout for special moments.  If/when I rush I miss SOOO many of them.  This type of mindset works whether you are at home, at work, in school, pretty much any where.  You just have to be on the lookout.  A co-worker gives you a compliment, you get a A on a test, lunch break conversations, friends joke around, your boss trusts you with something new.  Focus on these things.  Jot them down.  See them as gifts from God.  You will be AMAZED how many gifts God gives.  And, why does he give gifts - because He loves us.  He is love.


  1. Love, love, love!
    So happy you shared this on facebook!

    My faith blog is

    This was beautiful!
    her book is on my list of must reads!

    Have a great day!

  2. Wonderful honesty from one's heart..."we overcome by the words of our testimony". Valerie dear, you are learning what Abraham in the "present moment" with Father GOD (with your discernment of HIS influence) and now the extra added blessing of doing it through the MESSIAH,Jeshua/Jesus! Also, knowing that you are living your life for HIM, and not for Valerie...that your GOD given responsibility is to let HIM live through you for Matt and your kids! Much love and GOD's blessings...of course, how can you miss!

  3. Val, what a wonderful journey you are on!!! I am so excited for you and looking forward to hearing more about it this summer!!!


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