November 22, 2012

Quotes about Thankfulness

“Perhaps it takes a purer faith to praise God for unrealized blessings than for those we once enjoyed or those we enjoy now.” 
― A.W. Tozer

“We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts.” 
― Dietrich BonhoefferLife Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community

“Rest and be thankful.” 
― William Wordsworth

“Life without thankfulness is devoid of love and passion. Hope without thankfulness is lacking in fine perception. Faith without thankfulness lacks strength and fortitude. Every virtue divorced from thankfulness is maimed and limps along the spiritual road.” 
― John Henry Jowett

“Here are the two best prayers I know: 'Help me, help me, help me' and 'Thank you, thank you, thank you.” 
― Anne Lamott

“Joy is thankfulness, and when we are joyful, that is the best expression of thanks we can offer the Lord, Who delivers us from sorrow and sin.” 
― Elder Thaddeus of VitovnicaOur Thoughts Determine Our Lives: The Life and Teachings of Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

November 21, 2012

Musings on Thankfulness

I have been thinking about God's love and finding myself unable to comprehend its magnitude, its depth, and its intimacy. I have been worried that I am not fully tapping into the love God has for me, and thinking that this might be keeping me from what God has for me.

Yesterday morning I came across this from Jesus Calling (This is a devotional written by Sarah Young as Jesus would speak directly to the reader):

“The Light of My Love shines on you continually, regardless of your feelings or behavior. Your responsibly is to be receptive to this unconditionally love. Thankfulness and trust are your primary receptors. Thank me for everything; trust Me at all times”

and today this is what I found when I woke up:

“It is impossible to spend too much time thanking and praising Me. I created you first and foremost to glorify Me. Thanksgiving and praise put you in proper relationship with Me, opening the way for My riches to flow into you. As you thank Me for my Presence and Peace, you appropriate My richest gifts.”

These word were so timely and spoke to me so deeply. It gives me such peace to know that simply living a life of thankfulness will open me up to more of God's love. I do not have to try harder to earn anything more, or try harder to be aware of God's love, or try harder to understand God's love. I just have to be thankful for the beautiful things God has placed in my life.

In this season I am especially surrounded by goodness from God. Living in a wonderful house in India with a precious family. Staying in Kalimpong, which has been rich with sisters and brothers in the Lord. I am becoming dear friends with Heidi (the Finnish girl just my age, who lives with the family downstairs). I get to eat Indian food everyday and also get American style foods and goodies too. I was blessed by an American family who lived up the street with a tiny little french press and coffee beans to go with it. So now I can have fresh coffee! I have warm clothes and goodies from America: pumpkin spice tea, Thanksgiving Blend Starbucks Coffee, ginger candies, books, and Christmas gifts (don't worry I haven't peaked yet). One of my  favorite things that came from America was a sweet note from my best friend and two fall leaves. I am thankful for a spacious schoolroom with plenty of books. I am thankful for the warm winter sun, the clear weather, the mountains always in the distance, the flowers everywhere and the butterflies.

Ephesians 3:17-19
"And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge- that you may be filled to the measure of all of the fullness of God"

November 10, 2012

Playing in the Dirt and Learning to Love

Feeling a little weary this morning, a little frayed, a little worn. It sounds so simple, so easy: life is about loving and being loved. But the reality is so much more messy than that little phrase leads us to believe. 

Loving leaves us vulnerable. One cannot truly love from behind fortress walls. The walls need to come down and one needs to realize that their little world behind those walls was not reality. Reality is much brighter and more colorful, but more dangerous. Danger brings with it adventure, but also the possibility of pain. That is why the walls were erected in the first place: to keep danger out. But what is life without adventure? What is life without love?  

"The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable; they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed." Ernest Hemingway 
I  found this quote this morning. It was posted by a dear sister who is just a few steps ahead of me in this journey of life. I deeply value her wisdom and her vulnerability. The quote spoke just to what I was feeling and assured me that I am not alone on this journey. 

Another quote of encouragement came from Jesus Calling, a devotional written by Sarah Young. It is written as if Jesus is talking directly to you. November 10th begins with, 
"Focus your entire being on My living Presence. I am most assuredly with you, enveloping you in My Love and Peace.While you relax in My Presence, I am molding your mind and cleansing your heart. I am recreating you into the one I designed you to be." 
This is my desire, to let down my walls and learn how to love and be fully loved, first by the one who created me and created love. Then I can move on to loving others and being loved by others. 

Will I ever really know what love is? Probably not until I reach the other side of eternity, but I guess I cannot wait behind my walls until that day. What kind of life would that be? I guess I need to embrace the messiness, and remember how much fun it was to play in the dirt as a kid. Maybe that is why the Lord told us to come like little children, because children still know how to be messy and they are not put off by the messiness of love. 

I guess it is time I unlearn some things, let down my hair, and play in the dirt with Jesus. 

These two precious girls have both taught me so much about love. Brittany (Chorti Auntie) and Rajina: Asha Sisters

November 3, 2012

In the land of butterflies...

I have been here in Kalimpong for 30+ days and in India for 60+ days and I am so sorry that there has not been an update before this. I am not going to make any grand promises that I will blog everyday for the next 8 months to make up for it, but I do intend to keep you all better updated from here on out...
view of Kalimpong from our terrace 
One month ago I reached Kalimpong, West Bengal, India, after quite a few days of travel. The family I am staying with here had to make an emergency trip to Kolkata to visit the adoption agency that is working on the adoption paperwork for the two kids. Jeewan Loy (5) and Manju (10) have lived with Lindy for quite some time; Jeewan Loy since birth and Manju since she was 3 years old. Three years ago Lindy began the process to legally adopt her two kids, but as with most things in India it took much longer than anticipated. So after Lindy picked me up from the airport we took an overnight train to Kolkata, spent a day in Kolkata and took and "overnight" train back. The train back was suppose to just be 10 hours, but that turned into 20 hours. Two more hours in a taxi and we were finally all home in Kalimpong.
Manju, Jeewan Loy, and Burtrum (my travel companion elephant) 
The house here is so beautiful. It is on a really nice compound with a garden. It was actually built as the retirement home of the principle of the Christian school below. Lindy has rented it for quite some from the principle. For a while she used it as a pregnancy home for troubled girls. Parts of it has also been rented out to other foreign workers. This summer Lindy and her kids moved from living in just one of the rooms, to living in the upper flat. A Finnish family lives downstairs in the bottom flat. The rooms in the house are so much bigger and nicer than I was expecting. Because they are now upstairs Lindy was able to give me my own room and a separate schoolroom. It is quite a luxury to have my own room and bathroom.


I came to live with Lindy for 9 months to homeschool Manju and Jeewan Loy. Manju is in 5th grade and Jeewan Loy is in Kindergarden. Lindy is hoping to be able to take her children to the US after their adoption is finalized. It is my job to bring them up to speed with the American school system. The schoolroom they prepared for me is wonderful and spacious. They painted it a nice light sunny yellow color. We each have our own desk, and there is a white board, a bookshelf, and even a little tent to read in.
Red and brown furry caterpillar
Right now we are doing a study on insects. I decided to take advantage of all of the specimen readily available. There is alway some sort of interesting insect that has found its way inside the house. We don't even have to go outside to hunt bugs! Now every time anyone finds an insect I hear "MISS SARAH.... COME LOOK!" "Can we keep it?" We have caught a slug, a caterpillar, a ladybug, praying mantises, a dead wasp, and countless butterflies. I don't think I have ever seen this many butterflies in my life. They are always fluttering around the marigold or just floating in the breeze. They even find their way inside through the open windows. In the afternoons, or any other time Jeewan Loy can find to go outside, he is always hunting butterflies.
Dead Wasp
4 inch long slug

Pictures and words cannot quite articulate how beautiful this area is. There are not only butterflies everywhere, but there are flowers at every turn. Walking down to the bazaar through crowded streets and down smelly allies you can still be surprised by some green thing or flower that has found a little crevice to happily grow in. It is quite magical.
Manju, marigold, and butterfly