As I continue to intentionally set my heart to thank God for all He is and all He gives, I am taking time to consider how thankfulness is expressed in the Bible. One of the most famous songs of thanksgiving is Mary’s Song when she greeted Elizabeth, the Magnificat:

And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

(Luke 1:46-55 ESV)

Mary praises God for His works towards her, an insignificant, humble person who has been mightily blessed through His merciful grace.

Not only has Mary been blessed, but all of Israel and all of the world. God is working His justice: defending the weak, humble and hungry by opposing the proud, powerful and rich. Mary exalts in seeing God’s hand at work in social, religious, economic and political spheres – He is intimately concerned about each individual person and also the social and cultural realms in which we live.

Mary knows her place in history, from now on all generations will call her blessed, yet speaks of all God’s works as if they had already happened. But she is only 3 months pregnant – the baby who will become the man who will become our savior has not even been born yet, in an era when many women and babies perished during birth!

She is keeping her eyes fixed on God, whose works she praises. He is so sure to make it happen that she speaks of all His works as having already happened.



There has already been brokenness and heartache, sickness, death, wars and famines. And there will be more. Yet God has exalted those of humble estate; He has filled the hungry with good things. For some of us the brokenness, sickness and hunger is current reality. So too is salvation from these.

[This] is our same world, already perfected in Christ, but not yet in us. It is our same world, redeemed and restored, in which Christ “fills all things with Himself.” And since God has created the world as food for us and has given us food as means of communion with Him, of life in Him, the new food of the new life which we receive from God in His Kingdom is Christ Himself.

(Alexander Schmemann, For the Life of the World)

Gifts I have noticed recently:

  • A new puppy {1024}
  • Pen on paper {1026}
  • Night-time vista of harbour lights on my way to work {1030}
  • Making some progress building the back fence {1033}
  • Seeing my brother before he goes on ice for a year {1035}
  • Enjoying my children {1038}
  • Missing Rata {1039}
  • Spring! {1040}

Image: iStock

Give thanks in ALL circumstances

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV)

I suppose I expected this eventually, it is logical that eucharisteo would bring me to this point. A convergence of truths which are being woven into my life.

Giving thanks, searching for joy, fighting for faith, conviction that God is sovereign, trusting His word, and struggling with the failings of life. Give thanks in all circumstances.

I began this journey of gratitude as a means to fight for joy, and an act of obedience because I know we are commanded to give thanks but am not very good at doing it. So I began counting God’s blessings as I noticed them. Generally I was noticing the things that I was glad God has placed in my life. Give thanks in all circumstances.

But God has bigger dreams for me than merely being happy. It is God’s will that I rejoice in Him, always (Philippians 4:4).

In His mercy God has gently led me this far. It seems that now there are some lessons I really need to learn. Hard lessons about accepting trials and suffering as a gift from my loving Father who is creating me in the His image. Just as the Son of God learned obedience in what he suffered, I am seeing that this is a path none of us can avoid if we follow Christ (Hebrews 5:8).

For a long time I have tried to avoid the path of obedience through suffering, it is time to repent (turn) and begin trudging the way I am being led. Not only plodding along, but rejoicing as I do. Giving thanks in all circumstances.

Gifts I have noticed this week:

501) Opportunity to do some outside work today.
502) Sunshine after working nights.
503) Flowers in midwinter.
504) Muscle-tiredness as a welcome change from weary-headedness.
505) Watching old movies of the kids when they were babies.
506) Tired girls after sleep-overs.
507) 2-year-old up in the night unwell – opportunity to show him a father’s love by giving him medicine and cuddles.
508) Depression – causing me to look closer at where my hopes are placed.
509) The neighbour’s dog barking loudly, it is happy (joy) to see them come home.
510) My irritability – a reminder that I am setting my happiness upon trivial comforts.
511) A crisp, clear, cold winter’s day.
512) Noticing the storms clouds before setting out to walk to work (I will take the bus now!)

Image of approaching storm in Shetland Islands: iStockphoto

Gratitude list

Purposefully taking note of the ways in which God is whispering to me “you are loved”.
In so many ways I go through my life forgetting to worship because I am preoccupied with my own agenda. By making a point of listing God’s gifts to me I am finding my heart more often lifting worship to God for His unending blessings.

The idea of listing the gifts God has already given is not my own, it was inspired by Ann Voskamp and her wonderful writing (and photos) at A Holy Experience and her book One Thousand Gifts.

I use the Greek word eucharisteo to describe this listing of gifts from God and thanking Him for them. This again is copied from Ann Voskamp. Eucharisteo means:

  • to be grateful, feel thankful
  • give thanks

It also contains the root words charis, meaning gift or grace; and chara, meaning joy. So in giving thanks to God grace, thanksgiving, and joy all come together. I am in desperate need of all these, so the noting and noticing of blessings continues.

The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;
to one who orders his way rightly
I will show the salvation of God!”
(Psalm 50:23 ESV)

The gifts I have listed so far:

      1. God’s grace to me in Christ Jesus.
      2. My beautiful, faithful wife.
      3. Three wonderful children.
      4. Continual provision of enough as our family has grown.
      5. The grace that keeps making me grow as a father and husband.
      6. Daily chores that leave my mind free to think about God stuff.
      7. The ventolin that helps my little boy to breathe.
      8. Words, which express and mold our hearts.
      9. Books written by wise people who love God and want to build up His Church.
      10. A home that is weatherproof, warm and comfortable.
      11. My wife’s love
      12. Quietness and headspace.
      13. A second-hand dishwasher which does the job just fine.
      14. This encouragement to meditate upon Your gifts.
      15. The anticipation of small delights ahead of me this day.
      16. The ability to choose not to embrace needless consumption.
      17. Limits on my income which moderate my selfish spending.
      18. A daughter’s delight in hearing the Bible read to her.
      19. The gift of sleep to refresh body, mind and soul.
      20. My daughter wanting to show me the wood pigeon mask she made at playcentre.
      21. Coffee to help me get going in the morning.
      22. The drugs which help lift me out of despair.
      23. That my ATM card was not declined last time I used it!
      24. God reminding me to pray for my kids when I’m tired and can’t be bothered.
      25. Giggles from my 18-month-old son playing with Poppa.
      26. The persistence of a child in playing her violin and her enjoyment of music.
      27. Opportunity to vote for who will govern our city.
      28. Increasing awareness of my own weakness and Your grace.
      29. Daughter falling asleep still holding her hand out for me to pray for her.
      30. Life and beauty budding forth during a spring storm.
      31. A cup of tea and conversation with my wife.
      32. Beautiful songs that turn my heart again to Jesus when I am weary and filled with worldly concerns.
      33. Children laughing together playing outside.
      34. For Your reminder when I wipe the tears from a child’s cheeks that You will wipe away all our tears (Revelation 21:4).
      35. Water, this sustainer of life which You pour freely from the skies.
      36. Our old house remained weatherproof!
      37. That time continues ticking by even when waiting is hard.
      38. Helpful IT experts who transferred my blog to new servers for me.
      39. A warm fire on a cold evening.
      40. The unhurried pace of gardening on a sunny day.
      41. The sun drenched sofa on our back porch.
      42. Hannah asking me to take photos of spiders and bugs.
      43. The joy of getting a gift to delight someone I love.
      44. Toddler waking up in a happy, contented mood.
      45. A struggling friend making it to church.
      46. Familiar places.
      47. For giving the strength and ability to be what I need to be.
      48. A city greening with spring, and blue skies.
      49. Mother and daughter eating ice cream while watching Miss Potter.
      50. Kids enjoying rainbow lollipops.
      51. Our entire family of five piled onto the couch for a cuddle.
      52. A father-in-law who loves his daughter mightily.
      53. People who can express things I didn’t understand about myself until I read their words.
      54. A new vegetable garden all ready to plant out.
      55. A simple dinner with friends and happy children.
      56. A career dream come true.
      57. Reminders from God’s word of how transient my contentment can be (Job 29-30).
      58. The cumulative wisdom God gives humankind (Isaiah 28:24-29).
      59. The delight that lollipops from Dad brought to 3 children.
      60. My son seeking out his Dad for cuddles.
      61. Worms, that turn waste into life-giving soil again.
      62. Fascination of watching a giant meccano set being assembled (new stadium).
      63. The smell of poplar trees.
      64. Redemption purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ.
      65. A child’s gift (flowers in an egg cup) on the kitchen window sill.
      66. Moments snatched with God.
      67. A safe journey to, and return from, our holiday.
      68. The baptism of three Shan-Tai believers in Thailand last week.
      69. Being home.
      70. A reminder from the writings of John Piper that I need to keep my mind fixed upon what is pure in order to have joy in Christ.
      71. Reminders that I should exercise.
      72. The hope, and the heartache, of praying for the Shan people of Burma.
      73. Humble workers in my garden (worms).
      74. Your patient, constant molding of me.
      75. Daily rhythms of life that make me slow down and thank You.
      76. Sunshine at the bus stop.
      77. Reminders of my childhood fascination with the world You made, before I even knew You.
      78. Someone on the other side of the world ‘scratching in the dark‘ to remind me that it is necessary and possible to seek You daily amidst the chaos of ordinary parenting.
      79. Seeing my 20-month-old son running to me soon after we began a frantic search for him.
      80. The irrational fickleness of children’s behavior reminding me of my own erratic walk with You.
      81. Work that engages my heart and mind.
      82. Rest from striving to be what I am not.
      83. Birthday cards lovingly made for me by my children.
      84. That You don’t rush in communicating with me.
      85. Security and comfort You continue to give me.
      86. Having a spare ethernet cable to replace the broken one.
      87. That there is beauty in cyberspace.
      88. Delicious jam for breakfast.
      89. Helping me to not buy lunch today.
      90. Enabling/reminding me to pray for all three of the kids tonight.
      91. Being able to get flowers for my wife on the way home.
      92. Sun shining on the back hedge this morning.
      93. Hearing sheep and birdsong from my back porch.
      94. So very many times that I have been able to thank You for bringing a child safely through another day.
      95. Showing me one small way in which I could serve my wife.
      96. The wonder of Mark chapter 3, that the Son of God incarnate was recognized by demons but not by men.
      97. Finally getting the motivation to walk home from work.
      98. Wholesome alternatives to Halloween for the kids
      99. The fresh smell of a new spring morning.
      100. First-hand experience of how hard my wife works every day.
      101. Your comfort even while my emotions plummet.
      102. An excellent vantage point to take a photo from.
      103. Sick leave.
      104. Falling asleep on the sofa on our sunny back porch.
      105. Eating an ice-cream while walking home from work.
      106. Preserving me.
      107. Watching a daughter constructing with Lego.
      108. Paracetamol.
      109. A church fellowship of broken people who appreciate broken sermons.
      110. Grandparents helping a stressed son-in-law.
      111. A good cup of tea at the end of a day of too much coffee.
      112. A phone call reassuring me that her trip went fine and they are on their way home.
      113. Catching up by candlelight.
      114. Wanting to lose weight, even though I don’t have the energy or time to exercise more.
      115. Waking up despite my alarm clock being turned off!
      116. Being more conscious about what I am eating.
      117. Headspace to recharge while walking home.
      118. Encouragement to be an upside-down blogger.
      119. A glorious calm spring morning.
      120. Children giggling in their Mum’s bed.
      121. Grace keeping me from getting angry about being caught in a downpour.
      122. Lying on my back watching clouds.
      123. 22-month-old dancing to Slice of Heaven by Dave Dobbyn and Herbs.
      124. 2 hours of fun from a cardboard box.
      125. An evening walk.
      126. That in Christ greatness is attainable by all (Matthew 23:11-12).
      127. Little trees growing on a burnt-over, windswept hill.
      128. Free pine cones.
      129. Dinner cooked on our own barbeque.
      130. Peaceful sound of rain on the tin roof late at night.
      131. A quiet house for my troubled soul.
      132. Turning off the computer.
      133. Writing with pen and paper rather than keyboard and LCD.
      134. Lessons learned from a job I hated.
      135. That fools display their true nature to all (Ecclesiastes 10:3).
      136. The righteousness of Jesus overwhelming my rebelliousness.
      137. Not sleeping in!
      138. Having time to shave this morning.
      139. Being paid to learn fascinating things.
      140. That hunger/appetite can be my slave or my master.
      141. Being both too cold and too hot on the same day in the same town.
      142. A still and quiet heart from a walk on a still and quiet evening (Isaiah 30:15).
      143. The means to dispatch large spiders without getting too close! (i.e., flyspray).
      144. My 17 year-old watch that still goes great.
      145. My Mother-in-law making my favourite cake.
      146. Contemplating God while washing dishes late at night.
      147. Being mesmerized by the patterns of light summer rain falling silently on a pond.
      148. Gentle ‘plopping’ sounds as the rain gets heavier.
      149. Dragonflies hovering.
      150. A dog eager for me to throw a pine cone into the pond for him to chase.
      151. School camp.
      152. A washing machine.
      153. warm, sunny days to get washing dry.
      154. Memories of my own childhood adventures.
      155. A swim for two dogs who are hot and panting.
      156. A gentle, cooling breeze (see Jonah 4:8).
      157. Warm sunny days helping to burn away the fog.
      158. Clean water to drink.
      159. A dog who is expert at finding lost tennis balls to play with.
      160. Hope in Christ deeper than any circumstance or emotion.
      161. A new road layout, no more walking alongside trucks.
      162. The simple, brain-clearing rhythm of walking.
      163. Dear Heather, thank you for:
      164. Your peaceful presence.
      165. Vegetable gardens planted, tended and weeded.
      166. Laundry washed, dried and folded.
      167. Asking so little when you feel so empty.
      168. Clean floors.
      169. Your patience and compassion towards the child who torments you (they all take turns!).
      170. Meals prepared every day, without fail.
      171. Our budget finely balanced.
      172. Enduring the endless combing for lice in daughters’ hair
      173. A clean bathroom.
      174. A warm home.
      175. Children taken to appointments with dentists, doctors, dietitians, dermatologists, paediatricians, asthma nurses, violin teachers and many others.
      176. Learning an entirely new way of baking for our gluten-free girl.
      177. Endless picking up of toys.
      178. Dog walking.
      179. Squabbles mediated.
      180. Great conversations over cups of tea.
      181. Courage to confront me when I need it.
      182. Grace to let me figure out that I’m wrong and need help.
      183. Being my BEST friend EVER.
      184. Briny wind reminding me of a trip to be with God.
      185. The summery smell of lupins.
      186. Our kind neighbour who fixed my broken gate latch.
      187. A joy-filled wedding.
      188. Being able to just quietly go about life.
      189. Our Christmas baby of almost 9 years playing ‘Silent Night’ on her violin for our church
      190. Finally knowing what I don’t want to be like when I grow up.
      191. A good cup of tea.
      192. That the desire to praise God and speak of His glory can even overcome my fear of what others might think (sometimes).
      193. Kids loving Ann Voskamp’s ‘God stories’ before bed.
      194. The story of the Fall, which makes sense out of my sinful nature.
      195. An old dog frolicking like a puppy after some affection from her master.
      196. A bit of physical labour to harvest the bounty of the earth.
      197. Finding good books at a good price.
      198. Missing the ‘evening routine’ because I’m working afternoon shifts.
      199. Children playing outside on a warm summer morning.
      200. Warm, fresh, outdoor air kissing my skin.
      201. Making it to the bus stop in time (just!).
      202. My faithful wife and counsellor.
      203. Psalm 41 meeting my hurt.
      204. Being home.
      205. Rebukes (Proverbs 27:5).
      206. Being reminded to take my medicine.
      207. Knowing that a feast awaits me (Matthew 4:2-4)
      208. An enormous God-made sandpit for the kids to play in.
      209. Being able to hitch a ride when I <strong>didn’t</strong> make it to the bus stop in time.
      210. Making some (slight) progress on the list of odd-jobs to do.
      211. Change that makes me appreciate what is essential.
      212. A broken internet connection making me go to bed at a reasonable hour.
      213. My 5-year-old holding her arms out for a cuddle at the sound of my voice even though she is asleep.
      214. A quiet house.
      215. That our goal is perfection in Christ, not simply being better than others.
      216. The pleasure of lying down and closing sleepy eyes.
      217. A comfy bed.
      218. The security of being able to sleep without fear.
      219. A satisfied stomach.
      220. Being wakeful enough to function.
      221. The enjoyment of watching my little boy and dog playing with a ball together distracting me completely from what I was doing.
      222. Appreciation for my hardworking neighbour as I hear him mowing his lawns.
      223. Daughters missing home while on holiday at Grandma’s.
      224. Another dawn in our beautiful city.
      225. Tiredness reminding me of early days with new babies.
      226. Being outside in bright sunshine.
      227. Happy children.
      228. Getting a scrubcutter to attack the jungle in our back yard.
      229. My wheezy, asthmatic son snoring beside me in bed.
      230. A daughter wrestling with the meaning of the fall and Romans 7:7-25.
      231. The ESV Online Study Bible.
      232. A strenuous walk after sitting and sleeping.
      233. Literal windfalls for my gleaning.
      234. Crickets chirping.
      235. Laughter (Proverbs 17:22).
      236. The whole book of Revelation.
      237. My eldest daughter asking so many questions about God, the Trinity, how the Holy Spirit helps us, and what limits have been placed upon Satan.
      238. Encouragement to continue counting gifts.
      239. Grandma and Poppa reading bedtime stories.
      240. Rain interrupting my outside work, forcing me to tidy away tools and newly cut firewood before the real deluge began.
      241. Putting my agenda aside and going to bed because I am tired and need a proper sleep more than I need to cross one more item off my ‘To-do’ list.
      242. The grace to not have to try to be everything.
      243. Laughing out loud at a funny movie.
      244. Ephesians 5:13-14.
      245. Folding washing with my wife and best friend, chatting about children, long days, tiredness, and planning a break for us all.
      246. Mild spontaneous extravagance for Valentine’s Day.
      247. Work colleagues who share the load.
      248. My Friday on our Tuesday, which could even be your Monday. (Yeah, I get confused too!)
      249. Two-year-old son walking into the house wearing a toy bucket as a helmet.
      250. Rediscovering the joy of playing the flute.
      251. Problems which cause me to consider what I believe and why.
      252. Physical labour on a sunny day (Ecclesiastes 3:13).
      253. A shed slowly filling up with cut firewood and pine cones.
      254. Neighbours who at least have good taste in what music they play loudly.
      255. A lovely paediatrician who genuinely likes children.
      256. Gentle reminder from a friend, that I need to encourage a brother.
      257. Figuring out that the computer can do a tedious task for me.
      258. Love, which causes me to want to make her a cup of tea and give her the nicest cheese roll.
      259. The depth of Scripture (Mark 12:24).
      260. Cold tea because I fell asleep in the sun before drinking it.
      261. The Third Strand in our marriage (Ecclesiastes 4:12).
      262. A bowl of wild blackberries to eat, even if they are a weed!
      263. A young person standing up to let me have a seat on the bus (but does this mean I am now viewed by the young people as an old codger?)
      264. The fascinating strangeness of a stick insect I saw on the footpath.
      265. So many expressing compassion by words and actions
      266. Freedom to be a Christian openly
      267. My nine year old asking questions about the realities of faith that I didn’t get to until I was nineteen.
      268. Being corrected.
      269. Time, even though I use it so poorly.
      270. Two-year-old laughing to himself, then discovering why… he had found a stash of lollies!
      271. Air, breath, life ( Genesis 2:7).
      272. Grandma and Poppa safely home after a big trip.
      273. Slowing down to walk at a two-year-old’s pace around my own neighbourhood.
      274. Untangling ourselves from a bush lawyer.
      275. The huge sacrifices, of life even, so that we can have the words of life in our own language.
      276. The smell of freshly cut pine.
      277. An electric saw to make the wood cutting easy.
      278. An old sun-room’s worth of firewood.
      279. Cool, clean water to drink.
      280. That the jar of aioli I dropped landed on a wooden trolley rather than smashing on the tile floor.
      281. Surprising everyone with pancakes for breakfast.
      282. My kids super-excited at the prospect of living in a city made of gold! (Revelation 21:18-21).
      283. The kids sleeping the night in a tent, in their bedroom!
      284. A seat to rest on during a long wait for the next bus.
      285. Confidence that the bus will arrive as a shadow of my confidence that Christ will return one day.
      286. This noticing of His blessings, calming an irritated heart.
      287. Eating a lolly, sweetness, reminding me of when it was absent. Causing me to wonder how much comfort and pleasure sweeten what would otherwise be seen as obviously toxic to my soul. Is this why suffering is necessary?
      288. Unloading the irritations of my day to my best friend over a cup of tea.
      289. Being geographically isolated and not having nuclear power plants in our country.
      290. Putting my children to bed, giving them each a kiss, hugs, a prayer and words of love.
      291. The opportunity and motivation to learn how life is for those whose voice is suppressed.
      292. My heart being broken by the suffering of people in a land far away whom I have never met.
      293. God’s Spirit so clearly working in someone I used to think was a bit odd and have grown to deeply care about.
      294. Friends who I have not seen for 10 years coming to visit.
      295. Good food and good conversation over Sunday lunch.
      296. A great cup of tea made for me by my wife.
      297. The mysterious influence of a full moon.
      298. Safety of the Red Cross hospital in Benghazi.
      299. Struggling to remember the words of  Colossians 1:23
      300. Anticipation of a holiday this coming weekend.
      301. My heart peaceful and quiet, seeking to know Jesus.
      302. Two-year-old playing at washing dishes in the kitchen sink.
      303. Pre-warmed socks.
      304. Precious baby giggles playing peek-a-boo.
      305. Taste of a fresh apple reminding me of childhood orchards.
      306. A weekend away in a beautiful place.
      307. Our accommodation being upgraded for no extra charge.
      308. Fine weather despite a rainy forecast.
      309. Seeing my kids playing on a jungle gym the same as I played on when their ages.
      310. An evening with no computer.
      311. Feeling so much better after only one night away.
      312. Being nudged towards at least considering a big decision that I don’t want to make.
      313. My daughter writing a blog now too.
      314. Sincere words of love.
      315. Hard questions about faith  which drive me to prayer.
      316. God’s patience in waiting five years for me to appreciate the friend He has placed me alongside.
      317. Blissful sleep for a tired soul.
      318. No waiting list to get a sick child seen by a doctor on Sunday evening.
      319. Smelling chicken roasting.
      320. Kid’s rooms swapped around in one afternoon.
      321. Hysterical 2-year-old’s sister (5) engaging him and calming him down more effectively than either of his parents were able to.
      322. Realizing how little I know of prayer.
      323. Waking up from sleep having dreamed of visiting a Shan village in Burma.
      324. A calm, sunny autumn afternoon at Long Beach.
      325. Cuddles from my wife as her stress eases.
      326. A diagnosis for a child, even though I don’t like it.
      327. Bellbirds and tuis singing in our street.
      328. Warm woollen slippers as winter cold begins to creep in.
      329. Honest words telling of a spouse who disdains your worship. I cannot change your situation, but I am praying for you.
      330. Your endless sleep deprivation. I am praying and trying to help where I can.
      331. Your heartbreak and fears for the future in the disarray caused by an unfaithful husband. I am angry too, I don’t know what to pray even, but keep asking God to comfort you.
      332. Shortened work hours, rising living costs and healthcare bills causing anxiety. Praying for you both.
      333. Unending headaches and stress. I cannot see why you must endure this but Jesus is walking with you and I’m asking Him to give you comfort in your endurance.
      334. Depression casting shadows across your soul. Asking our Father to be your light, comfort and hope.
      335. Past abuse that has generated hardships beyond my knowing. I see you as you are today and there is grace at work. Praying for continuing grace, comfort and peace.
      336. The Son of God who died for us.
      337. The generation of men who fought for us.
      338. Childhood memories.
      339. A nation remembering.
      340. Two rememberings on one weekend.
      341. My own brother.
      342. At work listening to Alexa Still playing ‘Elibris’ as dawn breaks.
      343. Peace with God.
      344. The Comforter steadying my wavering heart.
      345. Beautiful music.
      346. Daybreak, His mercies renewed each day (one ‘day’ this will not happen – it will not be needed anymore, what will that be like?)
      347. Ten years married and very much in love.
      348. passing the last of my training tests.
      349. A normal nights’ sleep, during hours of darkness.
      350. Little hands exploring my face at 5:30 am.
      351. Up early to read my Bible.
      352. Irises flowering on a sunny morning when I feel tired and full of a cold.
      353. Grandeur and pageantry of the royal wedding as a foretaste of the glorious wedding to come (Revelation 19:7).
      354. An Easter parcel all the way from Switzerland.
      355. Scrunching through autumn leaves.
      356. The smell of fresh flowers as I write.
      357. Walking my youngest daughter to school.
      358. Finishing off posts I began writing months ago.
      359. Holding the hand of a child when she slipped, preventing her getting hurt – just as my Father holds me.
      360. Unwrapping the last Easter egg, anticipation, wanting sweetness, needing life.
      361. Rain on the tin roof.
      362. Relaxing under the shower of Your Word as it washes over me.
      363. A wife who can read me better than I can see the signs myself.
      364. A helpful and understanding doctor.
      365. Rain has finally ceased, I see blue sky, sunlight even!
      366. Old smelly dog lying by the fire.
      367. Aching emptiness paralyzing – it means something I haven’t yet discovered.
      368. Word habits, drawing me back to You.
      369. A busy weekend.
      370. My little boy’s fascination and delight watching model railways.
      371. The adoration of a dog reminding me to worship (thank you, David B.).
      372. Audiobook speaking when I’m unable to read.
      373. Water resting in torrent-hewn pools.
      374. Brightness from even a grey sky.
      375. Her example – walk when in the grey.
      376. Breathing deeply through pain.
      377. Walking slowly, carefully, through slippery miry clay.
      378. Forest bursting full with the cycle of life.
      379. Swinging legs and arms energizing me.
      380. Fantails flitting around me, being fed by our Father (Matthew 6:26).
      381. Fingers pink and puffy from cold.
      382. Coming home to warmth.
      383. Life given by God, breathed across silver, creating a song of grace in worship to God.
      384. Pleasure in making a floor clean.
      385. Turning on a dishwasher when it is late and I am tired.
      386. A pleasant chat with my parents on the phone.
      387. Daughter baking a cake and helping to make dinner.
      388. Bad tasting medicine, that works.
      389. Contentment with our little crooked house.
      390. A quiet evening and early night when not feeling well.
      391. Fifteen minutes to ponder Colossians.
      392. Fresh coffee and bread smells on the main street as a workday begins.
      393. Roads and a bus that gets me home through the roadworks.
      394. A beautiful book, read beautifully by it’s author.
      395. Electricity filling evening with lights.
      396. Serving a forgetful girl rather than grumping at her.
      397. My wife’s sparkling smile.
      398. Student’s eating ice-creams on a sunny autumn day.
      399. Walking and praying.
      400. A quiet library.
      401. A few moments to stop and ask for God’s strength.
      402. Yummy dinner when feeling a bit stressed.
      403. Cleaning the kitchen floor, because the washing machine flooded.
      404. Home-made Turkish coffee… Mmmm!
      405. Traffic noise after the tragic silence yesterday.
      406. Dwindling wood pile keeping us warm.
      407. Hearth stopping hot coals from burning our house down!
      408. Growing accustomed to an un-routine lifestyle.
      409. Hot shower on a cold morning.
      410. Toast at midnight.
      411. Comfy woollen jersey.
      412. Small people who quail before an unrestrained ranting.
      413. Paradise ducks on the pond.
      414. Reminder that even the strong can fall.
      415. Walking out of shade into sunshine.
      416. Cicadas chirping.
      417. Rope swing in an old tree.
      418. Industry noises echoing around the hills reminding me there are echoes of Christ everywhere.
      419. A small army of lancewoods.
      420. Acknowledging a passing “I should have…” thought without beating myself up for it.
      421. Blinding reflections of glory.
      422. Cats lying on a roof to catch the last sunny warmth.
      423. Beauty of sailboats and steeples.
      424. A church who accepts me in my strength and, more importantly, in my weaknesses.
      425. Listening to ‘The Myst of Eden: Hope’ by David Teems.
      426. My 2-year-old son wanting a “cuggle” (cuddle).
      427. Weekend holiday with friends.
      428. Kids playing at the beach.
      429. A hot shower and electric blanket when feverish with chills.
      430. Breakfast lovingly prepared by my daughter.
      431. The wondrous immune system God gave even me.
      432. Home-made lemon-honey drink.
      433. We are charting a different course from the one that messed us both up.
      434. Being taught by a preacher who knows the word well.
      435. ‘Enough’ really is enough!
      436. Pondering the astonishing promise of Ephesians 1:3
      437. Music soothing my soul (1 Samuel 16:23).
      438. Seeing danger for what it is.
      439. The painful cleansing of confession (1 John 1:9).
      440. Toddler sleeping all night in his own bed.
      441. Someone to love me when I am not able to.
      442. Reminder from a friend to stop and smell the roses.
      443. Dinner at a family restaurant.
      444. Exploring lifestyle changes, considering alternatives.
      445. Parents coming for dinner.
      446. Kids showing off for Grandma and Grandad.
      447. A very tired girl after her friend’s birthday party and sleepover.
      448. Fumbling through hard conversations.
      449. Beginning to see that something is not right and could be better.
      450. Small improvements giving hope.
      451. Three hours of useful time through mis-reading my roster!
      452. A messy story encouraging me to just do the next thing.
      453. Some time to read quietly.
      454. Freely offering praises to God.
      455. Getting all the washing folded while watching a John Piper DVD.
      456. Finally fixing the leaky spouting.
      457. Stewed apples with custard and ice cream.
      458. Seasons; in a year and in a life.
      459. Fear and hope at opening up to another.
      460. Going to church after a night working.
      461. Being able to draw near to God through Christ, our High Priest.
      462. A mild winter (so far at least).
      463. This astonishing technological entity we call the internet.
      464. Encouragement today that even in this secular nation souls hunger for You. (The Harvest is ripe)
      465. An hour relaxing at the library.
      466. A friend who will take time to listen when time is what he has least of.
      467. Happy, noisy children waking me up.
      468. Psalm 139:12
      469. Praying for my kids.
      470. Good books to read.
      471. Bacon!
      472. This reminder from John Piper: Beware of presuming on the strength of youth. “Even young men shall stumble and fall” (Isaiah 40:30). [even if I’m not so young any more!].
      473. Eagerly looking for dawn when working night shift (2 Samuel 23:4).
      474. Reminder to look through my circumstances to see God.
      475. That sometimes simply doing my duty is enough.
      476. Pen and paper, helping me to think and unload.
      477. Eyesight – so fragile, so beautiful.
      478. Clock ticking.
      479. God’s strength (Isaiah 40:30)
      480. Opportunity to do some outside work today.
      481. Sunshine after working nights.
      482. Flowers in midwinter.
      483. Muscle-tiredness as a welcome change from weary-headedness.
      484. Watching old movies of the kids when they were babies.
      485. Tired girls after sleep-overs.
      486. 2-year-old up in the night unwell – opportunity to show him a father’s love by giving him medicine and cuddles.
      487. Depression – causing me to look closer at where my hope are placed.
      488. The neighbour’s dog barking loudly, it is happy (joy) to see them come home.
      489. My irritability – a reminder that I am setting my happiness upon trivial comforts.
      490. A crisp, clear, cold winter’s day.
      491. Noticing the storms clouds before deciding to walk to work (I will take the bus now!)
      492. Eating toast and reading the Bible at midnight.
      493. John 6:47
      494. Serving others by filling up the water filter.
      495. A broken egg for the dog to lick up.
      496. Little boy sound asleep with toy trucks in his bed.
      497. Left over chocolate fondue made by my girls.
      498. Opportunity to walk to work.
      499. Four layers of merino keeping me warm on a cold day.
      500. Little reminders of where I am failing to serve those I love.
      501. 30 minutes in a quiet house with a Bible.
      502. Being able to help just one child suffering in poverty.
      503. A cold morning cutting firewood with friends.
      504. A weekend snowstorm.
      505. Remembering to update computer anti-virus software.
      506. Too many good blogs to have time to read.
      507. Reminders that ordinary life counts for a lot.
      508. Friends making it home safely.
      509. Choosing to walk to work through snow and ice rather than taking the car and potentially crashing it.
      510. Snow for the kids to play in.
      511. Rain washing the snow away.
      512. A spare sermon already written.
      513. Asking my wife how I can help her feel more secure that I will never leaver her.
      514. Her honest answer.
      515. The tingle I feel when she kisses me (merino + synthetic fleece – electricity between us!)
      516. A job which occupies my mind and my time.
      517. Seeing again who I am and what I love.
      518. A good book finished.
      519. Dreams surpassed.
      520. A christian preschool for my son
      521. Barracuda washed up on the beach.
      522. Huge changes compared with one year ago.
      523. Friends visiting our church.
      524. Folks noticing if we are late.
      525. Enduring the day at work with a headache.
      526. Bus to bring me home at the end of the day.
      527. My children fed well enough that they can be fussy and waste some of their lunch.
      528. Firewood delivered and stacked before the latest storm.
      529. God kept the snow away so I could preach my sermon.
      530. Kids enjoying collecting pine cones on a freezing cold afternoon.
      531. Two-year-old son thinks my pathetic drawing of a tractor is wonderful.
      532. The faith and perseverance of others lifting me up.
      533. Ability.
      534. Cooking dinner for a change, letting my wife rest.
      535. Politicians I didn’t vote for.
      536. A friend searching for ways to help.
      537. Getting to bed at a reasonable hour.
      538. Being pursued to deal with my weaknesses.
      539. Those who love me making sure I am helped.
      540. An evening out at a movie with my wife.
      541. Realizing the blessings showered upon me when I see shattered relationships.
      542. Folks romping in snow in our church carpark.
      543. Abundance of cuddles from my kids.
      544. A warm ride to work through the snowstorm.
      545. Chocolate cake lovingly created.
      546. Roasting marshmallows.
      547. Workmate picking up some cough medicine for me.
      548. God already knows the ways in which I would fracture if put under pressure.
      549. Birdsong this morning.
      550. Knowing the ‘flu will pass!
      551. Someday all will be made new.
      552. Looking forward to a warm bed.
      553. Home-made popcorn.
      554. Paracetamol.
      555. Birdsong at dawn.
      556. At home sick with youngest daughter, watching Sleeping Beauty together.
      557. Blue skies after two weeks of gray.
      558. A weekend break away.
      559. Rainbow in the sink!
      560. Getting away from our usual routine.
      561. Getting away from my usual time-wasting computer habits.
      562. Excited, hyped-up children.
      563. All being together as a family.
      564. Holiday cottage reminding me of my grandparents.
      565. Realizing how poor some of my ancestors were.
      566. Waking up to birdsong and beauty.
      567. Pottery coffee mug.
      568. Sunshine.
      569. Peaceful walk on Moeraki beach.
      570. Enormous ocean calmness.
      571. Making sand mountains with my son.
      572. Him stomping the mountain down!
      573. Persistent dog with a stick.
      574. A warm wind for drying washing.
      575. Reminders of the need for, and power of, praying.
      576. Despite it’s hideous noise, the vacuum cleaner is a useful thing.
      577. Peace in our nation, allowing me to even consider folding laundry.
      578. Living in this place where ‘enough’ is in fact a lot.
      579. Calm harbour with ripples from birds catching fish.
      580. A sheep in the street (only in NZ!)
      581. Local fertiizer factory replacing the glass in some of our windows.
      582. Invitation to join 30 days of prayer for the Shan in October.
      583. A pay rise!
      584. The simplest sermon I have ever delivered.
      585. Learning endurance through pain and discomfort.
      586. Gastroscopy date drawing nearer.
      587. Walking.
      588. Rain.
      589. Walking in the rain.
      590. Old memories showing me that I have changed and grown.
      591. Godly discontent with my shallow faith.
      592. Today, this moment.
      593. Each time I get to kiss my wife and children.
      594. slightly tidier front yard.
      595. Remembering where to find some unusual information when it was urgently needed.
      596. A gift of tickets to take my daughters to the ballet.
      597. A colleague swapping shifts with me so I can see my daughters in their school performance.
      598. Birdsong heralding the dawn.
      599. That I can call a sunny day ‘glorious’ and know God made it reflecting Himself.
      600. A clear head despite tiredness.
      601. Morning tea with the kids in their tree hut.
      602. Lunch in the sun on our back porch.
      603. Children giggling.
      604. Being reminded that God counts me as His despite my sin and weakness.
      605. Little boy miraculously returned home apparently unharmed after being abducted.
      606. The flower poked under my windscreen wiper.
      607. All the people working through the night to provide services essential to our society.
      608. The prickly old holly hedge clippings transformed into rich garden compost.
      609. Daughter spending her pocket money to get lollies for her Mum, Dad, brother and sister rather than herselfl.
      610. Stepping out the door from artificial worlds into the coolness of light, sun, fresh air and birdsong.
      611. Internet down, so I get other jobs done this evening.
      612. My little boy ‘helping’ me as I do odd jobs.
      613. A cheap haircut.
      614. Knowing I am saving myself $10 per month elsewhere before the letter arrived asking for an $8 per month increase to our child sponsorship.
      615. That my eldest daughter still wants hugs with her Dad.
      616. Electricity at the flick of a switch.
      617. A box full of fun.
      618. A new toilet.
      619. Being scolded for overindulging the kids with dessert treats.
      620. A devout rugby player.
      621. People around to talk to instead of my own slightly mad company.
      622. Pleasant evening with my parents.
      623. Cleaning the oven (my wife’s most-hated item on her To-Do list).
      624. Building momentum for the October month of prayer for the Shan.
      625. Warm Nor-easter.
      626. Trampoline.
      627. Waving Gospel firebrands at the ‘black dog’ to keep it at bay.
      628. Freedom to worship without harassment.
      629. Clean water.
      630. Little hands washed before lunch.
      631. A couple dedicating themselves to work with the Shan.
      632. Toy tractors in the vege garden.
      633. Finding a new polarfleece top for only 20% of the marked price!
      634. Watching the new BBC Jane Eyre movie with my wife.
      635. just the two of us enjoying a walk on the beach together.
      636. Reminder to come to Him as I am, childlike.
      637. Cuddling my wee boy to sleep.
      638. Sitting in sunshine.
      639. Kids spending days building their tree-hut.
      640. Cooking dinner.
      641. A beautiful park to walk in.
      642. Reading and writing on a rainy day.
      643. Finding a baby stick insect on the floor and setting it free outside.
      644. Daughter playing compassionately.
      645. A refreshing cup of tea.
      646. My son has spirit and persistence.
      647. Girls giggling as they wash the car and each other.
      648. The story God is weaving into this ordinary life.
      649. That NZ has no snakes.
      650. Safe traveling on a long weekend.
      651. More than enough food to eat.
      652. Water at the turn of a tap.
      653. Clean water, with no pathogens in it.
      654. Hot water.
      655. A water filter to remove the chlorine from and cool my clean water!
      656. Electricity reliably provided to my home.
      657. The ability to pay the electricity bill
      658. Shops where I can buy what I need.
      659. Phone and internet connections.
      660. Choices in what I want to eat.
      661. Freedom to worship God without harassment.
      662. Bibles for sale in the local bookshops.
      663. Enough clothes to be warm and comfortable.
      664. Access to healthcare when I need it.
      665. Good dental care, even if it does cost a lot – when necessary I manage to find the money.
      666. A vote of equal significance to everyone else in elections.
      667. Warm shoes.
      668. Abundance of what I need.
      669. Art, making life more than making do.
      670. Delight on girls faces.
      671. A daughter wanting to imitate my Bible reading habits
      672. Rekindled desire to play music.
      673. End of my working day.
      674. The wonder of a gull in flight.
      675. Apples are cheaper than chocolate.
      676. My wife, who I could not live without.
      677. Daily, grace beyond anything I could ever deserve.
      678. Guilt when I lazily take others for granted.
      679. Coming home to pancakes after a night shift
      680. A rebuke from the book of Proverbs.
      681. My first run in a very long time.
      682. Career clarity from the example of hard-working refugees.
      683. King Saul and David reminding me of the value of music to my soul.
      684. Patching up a daughter’s homework that was ripped by her baby brother.
      685. Walking home from school with my girls.
      686. A friend sharing his story in church.
      687. Pastor John Piper.
      688. Being forced to face a hard decision.
      689. Grace at work in relationships.
      690. God’s ‘still, small voice’.
      691. Sermon prepared and delivered despite tiredness.
      692. Poison prevention talk delivered.
      693. Coffee and cake in a beautiful café.
      694. The aroma of real pine Christmas trees.
      695. Sunlight.
      696. God putting the sun in the heavens (Genesis 1:16).
      697. A peaceful election.
      698. Not being allergic to pine pollen.
      699. A quiet walk in the cool of evening
      700. Realizing that too much alone time can be very bad for me, even as an introvert.
      701. Neither parent over-reacted or got angry.
      702. The incident happened at a time we were able to cope – earlier in the day I was on a short fuse!
      703. The scribbles were in pencil, an eraser got it off.
      704. Grandparents coming to visit.
      705. Fresh apricots (the taste of sunshine as my wife says).
      706. Chocolate frogs (the cause of the tantrum).
      707. Better behaviour from naughty child this evening.
      708. We are gradually figuring out how this child interacts with the world.
      709. Still feeling love towards all my kids even when I simultaneously feel frustrated, angry, tired and fed up with them.
      710. My 19 year old expresso maker – broken, welded back together, broken again – but it still works!
      711. A book I wanted to read conveniently placed in my hands.
      712. A quiet day at home alone.
      713. The simple lunch I am enjoying.
      714. Beginning to enjoy my jogging.
      715. Daughters excited to start a new school year.
      716. God promises to supply all I need (Philippians 4:19)
      717. Reinstatement of our child disability allowance.
      718. My wife’s persistence in dealing with bureauracracy.
      719. Cheap 2nd hand stereo.
      720. Lots of cheap plants to go where the hedge used to be.
      721. Finishing my run despite being stung on the ankle by a bee.
      722. Renewed sympathy for the kids when they get bee stings!
      723. Starting a prayer journal for my daughter as we pray together.
      724. Antibiotics for an infected bee sting.
      725. A productive afternoon’s work.
      726. Taking the whole family to a movie together.
      727. Son enraptured by model engineering displays.
      728. A quiet house to myself for the afternoon while I prepare a sermon.
      729. The fog appears to be lifting.
      730. Another poison prevention talk delivered to parents.
      731. Guiding others through Bible basics.
      732. Small, incremental improvements.
      733. A few more steps towards healing and understanding.
      734. So many ideas that I don’t have time t use them all.
      735. Cheerful cheeping of a fantail as we walk together.
      736. Happy children on scooters on a sunny track.
      737. Renewed vigour and enthusiasm in our little church.
      738. Seeing the effects of God at work in people’s lives.
      739. Sitting in Govenor’s with a coffee reading my book and the 4 other people in here are also reading their books with a coffee.
      740. Finally getting a new sandpit built for my kids
      741. My son giggling hilariously in his dreams (sound asleep)
      742. A pleasant day pottering outside at home
      743. Simplifying one aspect of my life
      744. New insights from chapter 2 of John’s Gospel
      745. The pleasure of reading a book
      746. Luminous clouds with glory shining behind them this morning
      747. Pre-school teachers, doctor, medicine, and parents all available to help our wee boy during an asthma attack today.
      748. That he is sleeping peacefully tonight.
      749. Finding a prayer I wrote out several years ago and being able to trace some of God’s answers to it.
      750. Being ridden on as a “daddy dinosaur”.
      751. Son giving me happy spontaneous hugs.
      752. An afternoon weeding the garden – good for my soul.
      753. Pizza for dinner.
      754. Bus driver waiting when he saw me running.
      755. Finding a good book to give my daughter.
      756. A quiet day at work.
      757. Several early nights in a row.
      758. Watching ships cruise past from our front window.
      759. Finishing one of many painting tasks needing done.
      760. Colleague swapping shifts with me after I double-booked my time.
      761. Bellbirds and tuis singing.
      762. Paper to write on.
      763. Walking.
      764. Autumn sunshine.
      765. Seeing a child’s faith blossom and grow.
      766. 20 hours of uninterrupted time with my beloved wife.
      767. Joy in our hearts from reconnecting and leisurely time together.
      768. Some renovation plans.
      769. Eastercamp.
      770. Friends for dinner at our house.
      771. Having dinner at our friends’ house.
      772. People I know who inspire me (real people with real struggles).
      773. Opportunities.
      774. Someone helping me find paths in the wilderness.
      775. Sunny autumn days.
      776. Old holly hedge now providing firewood.
      777. Wonderful, glorious daylight.
      778. Technology, even with it’s pitfalls.
      779. Not knowing how little time I have left.
      780. Patting my smelly old dog.
      781. Waking up during the day when I should be asleep – at least I get to see some daylight.
      782. Time to think.
      783. Finding a refill for my favourite pen.
      784. Eleven years of marriage and still deeply in love.
      785. Craig, the only other man I know of who counts blessings like this.
      786. The love of my children.
      787. Fear and uncertainty holding me back from stupid choices.
      788. My family who loves and needs me as I am.
      789. The desire to write, even if I don’t know what.
      790. Happy memories to cling to.
      791. Encouragement from friends.
      792. A few days off.
      793. The quiet joy of writing with pen on paper.
      794. Church bells ringing.
      795. A good, long night’s sleep.
      796. It was an old pair of jeans I ripped when I slipped over and hurt my knee.
      797. Permanent reminder to seek joy by thanking God.
      798. Tradesmen to fix the hash I made of our bathroom.
      799. New bath installed, finally!
      800. Honest discussions about the darkness that haunts me.
      801. An understanding boss.
      802. Slowing down to think thankfully.
      803. Tiredness beckoning me to sleep.
      804. The doctor was right and my cynicism was wrong.
      805. Chatting to Mum and Dad on the phone.
      806. My brother getting the job he wanted.
      807. The end of my work week.
      808. A friend being told, “it isn’t cancer”
      809. Children all tucked warm in their beds on a cold stormy night.
      810. Warm water on my skin on a cold morning.
      811. A new TV.
      812. rabbit hopping along George street!!
      813. City lights sparkling like the frost on the footpath.
      814. Pink sunrise reflected in frozen puddles.
      815. Only slipping once on the ice.
      816. Hockey stick, violin and a shoebox house careless on a bedroom floor – instruments of an active child’s living.
      817. New coffee mug with a message I needed on it.
      818. Some quiet time to ponder and read the Bible.
      819. A potential new opportunity.
      820. Renewed hope.
      821. Disappointment leading to re-evaluation.
      822. Morning bustle of the people I love most around me.
      823. Slowing my mind and doing one thing at a time.
      824. Watching home movies from 5 years ago.
      825. The marvel of an e-reader, an entire library in my pocket!
      826. My wife turning our partly renovated cottage into a cosy home.
      827. Putting a ‘Thomas’ puzzle back together for a wee boy who is sad at brokenness.
      828. Our Queen remaining honourable for 60 years.
      829. Family picnic on a glorious sunny winter afternoon.
      830. A handful of wild flowers from mum.
      831. Wild passionfruit.
      832. Squeaky swings.
      833. My new reading glasses.
      834. John Kirwin being knighted
      835. A frown from my wife reminding me I am being lazy.
      836. Warming frozen fingers by the fire.
      837. Water to wash away my physical dirt and the blood of Christ to wash away my sin.
      838. My wise and insightful wife.
      839. Jesus, the overseer of my soul (1 Peter 2:25).
      840. N. coming to cuddle my in bed and rubbing my eyes.
      841. The smell of rich, fresh, fair trade coffee.
      842. Overcoming my fear of being incompetent and finally installing the bathroom heater.
      843. Not electrocuting myself.
      844. Viktor Frankl’s reminder that each life has meaning.
      845. Sermon coming together well despite late night preparation.
      846. A favourite woollen jersey.
      847. The smell of a pine forest.
      848. Lungs full of cool, clean, fresh air.
      849. This measure of suffering today.
      850. An hour of peacefulness outside to simply be.
      851. Memories of childhood melancholy – I have been through this before.
      852. Realizing that melancholy is part of who I am.
      853. No more money – I must be content with less.
      854. The child heart remains in me.
      855. H. saving my life again.
      856. Frost crystals on a sunlit rock.
      857. Job application in just in time.
      858. Winter days slowly lengthening.
      859. Irises blazing midwinter colour.
      860. Surprising myself with the reflexes to catch a jar before it smashed on the floor.
      861. Dozing in the sunshine.
      862. Sunlight reflecting across the sea.
      863. Being less then 1 metre from an adult fur seal
      864. Coffee overlooking the Moeraki boulders.
      865. Kids feeding deer.
      866. Enormous ice creams.
      867. Gorgeous weather.
      868. Relaxing in the natural beauty of Moeraki.
      869. Slowing life down to walking pace.
      870. Reading Hemingway’s ‘The Old Man and The Sea’ in an evening while on holiday in a fishing village by the sea.
      871. Fur seal pups.
      872. Amazing book about battling suicide.
      873. Very silly, giggly girls at bedtime.
      874. Protection of our intrepid little boy near sea cliffs today.
      875. An enormous full moon setting over the city on a cool morning.
      876. A job interview.
      877. Happy cousins playing together.
      878. Three-year-old son ‘reading’ the dictionary.
      879. Encouragement from God that He is working out a plan and purpose for my life.
      880. A quiet cup of tea with my wife after she finished work.
      881. The quiet delight of the art gallery.
      882. Seeing the famous portrait of Captain James Cook in real life, up close.
      883. A happy little boy playing with toy animals.
      884. One whole week in the ‘green zone’.
      885. Physiotherapy students helping H.
      886. Reading through ‘One Thousand Gifts’ again.
      887. My son’s giggles when tickled
      888. Reading a good book in front of the fire on a wet drizzly day
      889. Caring and competent school teachers for H.
      890. Not feeling depressed for 2 whole weeks.
      891. Loan money going through.
      892. Paying most of one credit card off.
      893. Throwing the offending card in the fire.
      894. The jumpy wee dog we brought on the spur of the moment 8 years ago.
      895. A daughter’s concern for her upset sibling when we buried Rata.
      896. Lunch with folks from church at the Plaza Cafe.
      897. Hearing rain on the roof, knowing the leaks are fixed.
      898. Hannah holding my hand on a family walk.
      899. A 3-year-old’s legs running flat out down the Ross Creek track.
      900. Family trip to the library on a dismal wet day.
      901. Reading a book set in the places where I grew up.
      902. We got the roof fixed before all this rain arrived!
      903. Noticing how bad weather, tiredness and being sick makes me grumpy and bad tempered with the kids.
      904. A new puppy.
      905. Folding up laundry without hurry or fuss.
      906. Pen on paper
      907. Reading and learning.
      908. Antibiotic’s for Iona’s tonsilitis.
      909. A wonderful family doctor.
      910. Night-time vista of harbour lights on my way to work.
      911. The idiosyncrasies of N. teaching me about myself.
      912. Feeling grounded and no longer in an emotional pit of despair.
      913. Making some progress building the back fence.
      914. Adriana’s birthday.
      915. Seeing Colin before he goes on ice for a year.
      916. Mum & Dad seem happier and more relaxed.
      917. Mike & Michelle wanting to pastor our church.
      918. Enjoying my children.
      919. Missing Rata.
      920. Spring!
      921. Lush green spring hills.
      922. Bus taking me into town.
      923. Elderflower cordial.
      924. Yummy yoghurt.
      925. Fresh, clean water at the turn of a tap.
      926. The kind lady who gave me a ride into town after I missed my bus and was going to be late for work.
      927. A happy puppy running free.
      928. Seeing a budget advisor.
      929. A rainbow reminding me of God’s promises.
      930. Taking the opportunity to walk the dogs and collect pine cones instead of blobbing at the computer.
      931. Jim waiting for me so I didn’t miss the bus again.
      932. A friend who is not afraid to thrash out thorny theological questions
      933. Honey on toast.
      934. Free parking from a temperamental parking meter
      935. Hannah skipping along a gravel road singing, “it’s the best day ever”.
      936. Fledgeling bird found on the side of a road. Trembling vulnerability lifted out of danger.
      937. Smelling roses as I read the Bible.
      938. A convicting conversation today about prayer
      939. Training Fern with dog buiscits
      940. Gardening; slowing down, being outside, interacting with growing things (even the weeds!)
      941. A full day of work without a headache.
      942. Heather cooking a delicious dinner.
      943. Warm little feet pressing into the small of my back.
      944. LS taking calls when my voice failed me.
      945. Starting the final bit of painting on the house extension.
      946. Delicious dinner with friends.
      947. Heather’s hard work to bless Hannah on her birthday.
      948. A productive day painting the house.
      949. Scent of lilacs as I walk to work.
      950. Evening shadows
      951. Fern chasing rabbits
      952. Last day of work for two weeks
      953. Beautiful lake and mountains
      954. Being back in Central Otago
      955. Nathanael laughing hilariously at my belly button.
      956. Enjoying our beautiful countryside with my kids.
      957. A long walk with Heather.
      958. A long conversation with Dad.
      959. A safe drive home.
      960. Sleeping in my own bed.
      961. Heather and kids are OK after the car went off the road.
      962. Finding ways to add routine to my erratic schedule.
      963. Building consent approved finally.
      964. Seeing Hannah happily settled on her first day back at school for this year.
      965. Deleting a time-wasting game off my computer (again!).
      966. New car.
      967. Insurance!
      968. Hot toast with butter and honey and a good cup of coffee.
      969. My wee boy turning 4.
      970. A fascinating walk through the ecosanctuary
      971. Great neighbours.
      972. A long chat with a good friend.
      973. A boss willing to give second chances.
      974. Fern sniffing around chasing a lizard.
      975. Rain after a long, dry summer.
      976. Jim waiting for me to catch the bus.
      977. Time in the middle of the day to take Fern for a walk.
      978. Crickets chirping.
      979. A fine afternoon for walking.
      980. Staying focused at work.
      981. My kids, I like being their dad.
      982. The fresh smell of a damp forest.
      983. The joy of being around a happy dog.
      984. Walking home eating an ice cream on a sunny day.
      985. That it is a warm day when the electricity cut out.
      986. Just putting one foot in front of the other.
      987. A warm house and blankets for my children’s beds.
      988. Church family who care enough to ask probing questions.
      989. New flower buds on the kowhai tree
      [Page last updated Nov 2012]

Voice your complaint – God can handle it

caucasian man praying with hands over his face

How do you thank God when life sucks? We are commanded to give thanks, always and for everything (Ephesians 5:20) – how is this possible if your lot in life is lousy?

I know enough people who are having a real tough time in life to be under no illusions that being a Christian exempts anyone from enduring hard times. The situations these people are experiencing are not their own fault or due to a lack of faith. Frankly it looks very much as though God has given some folks a real bum deal.

That seems to be how Job felt too – he believed God is good, he firmly held that it is much better to be righteous than wicked, yet there was no denying his suffering. Job was more honest than his friends, he didn’t try to protect God from the truth – really bad things do happen to good people and there is no logic to it.

I loathe my life;
I will give free utterance to my complaint;
I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.
(Job 10:1 ESV)

Job knew something wasn’t right and he grew weary of holding it in, he vented, he shocked his friends. His friends snapped back with accusations, defending their doctrine, standing up for God.

Yet someone was listening to all this. Have you ever considered that someone was listening to these conversations and faithfully reported or wrote what was said? This is what I can do for my friends also, listen and take their complaints to God.

Gifts I am noticing:

341) Honest words telling of a spouse who disdains your worship. I cannot change your situation, but I am praying for you.
342) Your endless sleep deprivation. I am praying and trying to help where I can.
343) Your heartbreak and fears for the future in the disarray caused by an unfaithful husband. I am angry too, I don’t know what to pray even, but keep asking God to comfort you.
344) Shortened work hours, rising living costs and healthcare bills causing anxiety. Praying for you both.
345) Unending headaches and stress. I cannot see why you must endure this but Jesus is walking with you and I’m asking Him to give you comfort in your endurance.
346) Depression casting shadows across your soul. Asking our Father to be your light, comfort and hope.
347) Past abuse that has generated hardships beyond my knowing. I see you as you are today and there is grace at work. Praying for continuing grace, comfort and peace.

Useful reading (some of what I read in thinking about how to write this post):

Image of man praying: iStockphoto

Learning to play nicely

You shall have a song as in the night when a holy feast is kept, and gladness of heart, as when one sets out to the sound of the flute to go to the mountain of the LORD, to the Rock of Israel.(Isaiah 30:29 ESV)

Today I played my flute for the first time since before my son was born. Needless to say I’m a bit rusty! I was never very good to start with and the dog still whines when I’m playing (slightly off-putting!) but at least I finally managed to muddle through one of the Bach minuets that my daughter plays beautifully on her violin.

What is most striking to me is the joy it brings me to play music, even poorly. I have always experienced this in playing the flute, even relatively boring practise times finish with me feeling more uplifted than when I began, despite it being hard work to make fingers and brain play the notes on the page. Certainly credit needs to go to the composers who write beautiful music, it is definitely nicer to play good music than boring stuff, but it does seem to me that God has given music as a very powerful means of joy.

At its best music can elevate our minds and hearts to contemplate the glory of God and delight in praising Him. At its most corrupt it is used to debase people and elevate Satan. Anything so powerful needs to be treated with respect but is certainly a gift from God to be used for His glory.

I would like at least to practise the flute so that I can play alongside my daughter as she plays the violin. I’m full of thanks to God for prompting me to pick up my flute this evening, and am somewhat puzzled as to why it has taken me this long to do so!

Gifts I have noticed this week (241 – 250):

241) Rain interrupting my outside work, forcing me to tidy away tools and newly cut firewood before the real deluge began.
242) Putting my agenda aside and going to bed because I am tired and need a proper sleep more than I need to cross one more item off my ‘To-do’ list. The grace to not have to try to be everything.
243) Laughing out loud at a funny movie.
244) Ephesians 5:13-14 (see why here).
245) Folding washing with my wife and best friend, chatting about children, long days, tiredness, and planning a break for us all.
246) Mild spontaneous extravagance for Valentine’s Day.
247) Work colleagues who share the load.
248) My Friday on our Tuesday, which could even be your Monday. (Yeah, I get confused too!)
249) Two-year-old son walking into the house wearing a toy bucket as a helmet.
250) Rediscovering the joy of playing the flute.