Thursday, March 1, 2012

A Grateful Heart

Wow!  two months since last I wrote!

Things have been rough for awhile.  I am filled with gratitude to be able to say the sciatic nerve pain has been extinguished for the moment.  This was my second attack, so I figure it can attack again when God wills it.  For now, my soul is awash with the thanksgiving of less pain to deal with!

My energy level has been sucked dry by all the above.  I have had to stop attending church, and have been grateful for the Internet broadcast our church has.  I have to say that my pastor is one of the best teachers I've ever been honored to listen to - He researches all the backgrounds, the places , the customs, mixes it with humor, the tenderness of God's heart, and the joy of being His child.  You can listen as well - the website is and the time (all Pacific standard) of the broadcasts is noted.  Wednesday nights are Old Testament, Saturday nights and Sundays are New.  There is also a video archive of all his teaching, and an audio one down loadable to your smartphones, whatever they are (can you tell I am not a great whiz with electronics?)  He is also on the Calvary Chapel radio station - his program is "Through the Word".

I feel in a way as if I were emerging from a tunnel.  The colors of Spring, which come early to the high desert, are everywhere.  The town was planned; so the mulberry trees and the Palo Verde trees are putting on their show at present - wild profusions of lacy pink blossoms dance on the breezes (and hang on for dear life during our frequent windstorms!).  The Palo Verde are trees with chartreuse green bark (lifelong) and chartreuse green spring flowers that have a touch of yellow in them.  The branches and limbs are as fine as a flower stem, and when in bloom look like they belong in a fairyland.  Hummingbirds with flashes of bright purple and brilliant reds dip in and out of the gossamer blossoms and delight the heart.  And our quail (as many as 15-20 at a time, the babies of babies of babies of our first group of 4) cluck and chortle their way through our days, bringing laughter and delight.  We also have two male mockingbirds who seem to stake out our feeders as "theirs" every spring, strolling on our back cement block wall until they see each other.  Then they stop, not a feather moving, not a muscle twitching and give each other "the stare."  And then they run full tilt at one another and chest bump, for all the world like two tipsy Bubbas trying to impress a lady.  The first time I saw that "display" I roared with laughter and tears filled my eyes.  I've never heard of such behavior among birds - elk, yes, mountain sheep, yes, but birds?  I should film it and put it on YouTube!

For us CI's, little things become big things.  If we're housebound, every excursion is precious.  Paths in parks that are wheelchair accessible are wonders, chairs in libraries, individual go carts in grocery stores, all are wonderful gifts which, I must confess, I tend to take for granted.  I've been blessed to visit a few countries "across the pond" and I certainly was pleased to return to  the smoke-free and handicap accessible portion of the USA where I live.

And that's the point of this devotional today - gratitude and thanksgiving. 

When I lost my eyesight for awhile, I was so deeply grateful for its return.  Now, once again, I find myself taking it for granted, although it was in my heart and on my lips frequently at its return. 

The same thing happens when my pain medication works especially well, not just decreasing but eliminating the pain for awhile.  To suddenly realize the pain is gone is a miraculous thing for me.  You would think that the first thing out of my mouth would be thanksgiving, wouldn't you?  Yet that is often, to my shame, not the case.  I often don't realize it's gone until it hits again, unexpectedly and with vigor.  After all these years, you would think I had it down pat.


When I attended my first Christian Writers' Conference, I found Dr.Ruth Vaughn's books.  She is a contemporary and friend of Eugenia Price, one of my favorites.  Dr. Vaughn's doctorate is in creative writing.  She had been a professor at the same college as her husband for years.

Then cancer struck.

She had cancer of the pituitary gland, almost died more than once, and was confined to bed for quite awhile as it got worse - then gradually the treatment began to work and she was cured.  During this time she wrote letters to her children with things she wanted them to know- Letters In A Lockbox  was the result. Letters Dropt From God and Even When I Cry were two others that resulted - plus My God! My God! , the cries of a frightened sheep, like you and me, bleating with fear at the edge of a precipice. What's a Mother to Say? is her answer to the questions, sometimes difficult, that children can ask that really make us think, and then shares her answers - from a strong Christian position.

But way back then at the Writers' Conference I stumbled on her book Writing to Discover Yourself . It was an amazing journey in writing - guidelines for any writer, written soon after her diagnosis when she was bedridden for the most part.  It changed the way I looked at life, the way I wrote, the way I processed the world - all a long-winded way to share this piece she included in the section on the senses.  I've been reading her again and stumbled on it - and it left me face down in worship before my King, confessing my thankless heart and using her words to praise Him.

I invite you to join me - this is Dr. Vaughn's piece, "Lord, Accept My Belated Thanks" from Write to Discover Yourself copywrited 1980, page 51.

"I thank You, Lord, that You have not diminished the beauty of the rainbow, the grace of the cottontail, or the luminous loveliness of summer for lack of praise from me. I am grateful, Lord, that You have not withdrawn a note from the haunting music of the wind, the excitement of the cold, wild spray of blowing rain, the enchantment of the breeze and oaks exchanging secrets, because of my negligent gratitude.  I thank You, Lord, for not leaving unfinished one golden leaf, one tickling raindrop, one mischievous, slender moonbeam because of my sleeping thankfulness.

"I am grateful, Lord, for grumbling thunder which rattles winter stars together, for the lazy coils of morning that unwind slowly into a lovely day, for protesting jays and sequestered thickets, for sprinkles of stars, scatter-pinned on the velvet folds of the heavens, for the giddy, gay robins to announce the arrival of spring, for the glory of a young pear tree in bridal veil.

"I thank You for the diverse radiances of the dawn, the crystal-ringed fishpond, the laughter of little children, the bedstead initialed by small convalescents, the quicksilver moments of love and happiness.

"Lord, now I pause in a moment of thanksgiving.  I know that it is long overdue.  For the beauty with which You have filled my world has been taken for granted by me far too long.  Accept my gratitude for Thy salvation, a place to serve, friends who love and care, a challenge for which to work, a hope to hold to my heart, a dream to hang onto the very loveliness of spring.

"And, most of all, Lord, thank You for taking time from engineering Your planets, Your moons, Your suns, Your stars to bend above me listening to my cry for help; and even though I am often ungrateful and always unworthy, You care for me.  You love me.  You answer my prayer!
Though belated and long overdue, Lord, accept my thanks!"

To which I add, "Amen, and Amen."

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