Monday, April 27, 2009

Gratitude 20--Relay for Life





Friday night my daughter Anna participated in Relay for Life. While I did not raise money, I was a full participant along with her. It was a great joy to see her succeed and walk away with such a great sense of accomplishment. It is a time for which I am greatly thankful.

I am thankful for many things associated with our participation in Relay for Life.

1. The Survivor Dinner celebrating those who have beaten cancer.









2a. Black tape that held down potted plants and tablecloths in the 30 mph sustained winds.









2b. Hubbies who help out.









3. VOLUNTEERS!!! Male, female, adult, and teens. They rocked!!!










4. Kitti's found keys

5. Purple Care Giver sashes worn by so many loving friends and family members

6. Flamingo Flocking that raises a lot of money

7. Two one-man teams that walked or ran 12 hours all by themselves logging 50 miles and raising large amounts of money
8. Cupcakes









9. Teenagers who really liked the cupcakes!

10. Elvis, who bought $30 worth of stuff, gave us two $20s, and then told us to resell all but one cookie. He did that for every team there. Talk about class!









11. Farmers Electric with their barbecue pit and great prices on delicious food.
12. Fun games for the young folks to play when they weren't walking.

13. Sleeping bags for warmth, even if we didn't sleep.

14. Five "strangers" who became friends so Anna could do the Crazy Bat race.









15. Jordan, event co-director, who worked hard to make sure the teens had stuff to do.

16. A Memory Garden

17. Luminaries glowing brightly










18. Survivors walking the first lap, screaming with their presence, "Cancer can be defeated!"









19. Teenage boys who walked around the track bouncing basketballs and pulling toddlers in a wagon.
20. Comfortable shoes.

20b. That my toe where I lost my toenail didn't hurt AT ALL!
20c. For bandaids for the HUGE blister on my pinky toe of the other foot.

21. Everyone who donated.

22. Everyone who prayed.

23. For soft grass to walk on when aching feet could not tolerate the track any longer.









24. No storms.









25. Fun laps--toga lap, 70s/80s lap, team attire lap, crazy hat lap, and pajama lap

26. Team members who took us in when they didn't know us









27. Water

28. Pancake breakfast

29. A safe trip home after a long night

30. Nearly $70,000 raised in the fight against cancer

31. The feeling that an 11-year old can make a difference

32. The teens that should make their parents proud because they conducted themselves well and stayed committed to the very end









33. A safe hour long drive home after being up all night.

34. The priceless privilege of being part of my daughter's life.










35. The crazy desire to do it all again next year.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Typical Day

I sat down a second a go to journal about my day, and for reasons I can only assume are God, I feel compelled to tell you about it instead.

First of all, it started pretty miserably. I was up till 5:00 am in pain due to unexplainable muscle spasms. When I woke up at 7:00, my throat hurt, my voice was nearly gone, and my head was pounding. Man of my Dreams sent me back to bed. At 9:00 I got up and showered. Then I lay down on the couch, miserable.

And yet, I wasn't.

I felt a sense of anticipation, that this was going to be a glorious day, the kind where God shows up over and over and leaves others and me in wide-eyed awe. It's always fun to see what He has in mind for those days. It's like Christmas when you know the presents are going to come. All you have to do is wait excitedly until they do and then gasp in joy and amazement at the perfection of them.

Gift #1 wrapped in a huge box with royal blue metallic paper and a large silver ribbon and bow--

As some of you may recall, in January I dropped a large terracotta pot on my big toe. Sunday, the toenail came off. It didn't hurt when it came off, but the area that has always been protected by a nail was very tender. I immediately sent out an email because Anna is walking in Relay for Life Friday night, and I am walking with her. I have to be able to wear shoes, and as of Sunday night, I couldn't even sleep on my stomach because the pressure of my toe against the bed kept me awake. I needed healing.

Today I put on my tennis shoes, walked around the house, hung out laundry, used my big toe to pry my shoe off the other foot (habit), and haven't hurt at all. In fact, I have had my shoes on all day, and there has been no discomfort.

Gift #2 a carefully wrap heart-size gift all in pink--

I've often said when I grow up, I want to be like Anna. It's because there are so many things about her that I am not and wish I were. For instance, Anna is never in a hurry. Ever. She is very meticulous and purpose oriented. It isn't always the purpose I wish she'd pick, but she is very committed to excellence in the things that strike her as important.

This is a great blessing...and a characteristic the enemy loves to attack.

Often Anna is the last one finished, the last one ready, the last one...for anything. She is the one everyone else is left waiting for. People don't always like that, and that means, Anna doesn't always like it.

In the last few weeks, Anna has asked me multiple times about her meticulous nature. Is it really a blessing? Do I love her even when I have to wait for her? This is heavy for her.

In our family time, we've prayed for God to show her that she is fearfully and wonderfully made. She is a masterpiece.

This morning, while I was sleeping, she read a Highlights Magazine, and the article she read was about a young lady who was always last out the door, last ready, last finished. Why? Because she was putting away the art supplies or cleaning up or helping out in some way. She was being a person of excellence, and excellence cannot be rushed.

Anna glowed as she told me about the story. "I'm not the only one," she said with a huge smile.

Knowing you are what you are supposed to be...is there a better gift?

Gift #3 wrapped in a box made to hold jewels, lined with softness, the kind that feels good when it touches you--

I jumped on Facebook to reply to a few things and saw a friend online. I normally don't send him instant messages because he is busy, but today I opened a window and gave him a quick two line message. I won't tell you what it was, but his reply reminded me of God's incredible interest in detail in our lives. In short, my friend had just gone through a tiring time, and the words were the encouragement he needed.

What a gift to have the Father speak to your exact need and what a gift to be a vessel of the Most High?

Gift #4 wrapped in green, paradoxically small and large at the same time--

The thought the Lord has been putting on my heart since Christmas finally found comletion today. We got to be a blessing, and others got to be blessed. It really is so blessed to give!!!

Gift #5 a recycled gift that never loses its value--

This week the Lord has really convicted me of "backup plans". Things we pray about but devise backup plans in case God doesn't answer. I have come to realize that God always answers. The question is what do we do when it isn't the answer we want. Too often, we devise backup plans. I can wear a houseshoe or walk barefoot at Relay for Life. The Lord really got in my face about this and said, "I'll either heal you, or I don't want you to be the one walking. I don't need you to bail me out." Oh...

I've been meditating on this simple--and yet deeply profound--revelation this week. It seems so simple, but we have this human nature...like today.

A friend of mine called and shared a scheduling conflict in her family. The event they wanted to attend is a big deal. I've participated, and I'm here to tell you--it's a BIG deal. However, there was a conflict. My first inclination was to offer options. Maybe this...maybe that... In the middle of my bailout plan, God spoke, "Is this of me or not? If it is, what is the issue? Ask me, and I'll give it to you."

Suddenly, my mind changed. "Let's pray. Right now." She agreed. When we were done, it was obvious to both of us that the Holy Spirit had been in the prayer, that it had been directed by Him, and that the Lord was already working through the details. As we got off the phone, I said I would keep warring for her peace of mind and the perfect alignment of time, and would hse please let me know when things had arranged so I could rejoice with her. She said she would.

One of the greatest gifts in all the universe is knowing God does not need bailed out or backed up. He is IT. He is I AM. Period.

Gift #6 small but valuable, covered in hearts--

Anna lost one of her favorite little dolls. She looked everywhere but couldn't find it. She asked me to joing the search. I looked everywhere she mentioned having been with it in tow. Nothing. Finally, I asked simply, "Did you ask God where it is?" She had not. We stopped, and I simply asked aloud, "Lord, where is Sampson?" I immediately walked into her room, which was not a place of play but a place of passing through as more toys were pulled together for play. I picked up her blanket and tossed it on her bed. Then I picked up a throw pillow and tossed it on her bed. There lay Sampson.

Gift #7 wrapped in ocean blue/green, calming, and as big as you want it to be--

God never favors one child over the other. His gifts are for all His children...every day.


Is this day typical? No...and yes.

Do we always get to give the gifts we gave today? No. But I have found the more I anticipate the Lord in my day, the more He is allowed into my day and the more I see Him so obviously in my day.

I cannot tell you the number of times we have searched high and low for things only to stop and ask, "Lord, where is it?" Suddenly, we know.

I do not know how many times the Lord affirms someone in my family through something we read, an email form someone, a card, or a chance meeting.

And the opportunity to encourage someone is always there...right in your own home...standing at the counter at the bank...sitting alone on a chair in church...crossing your mind for the first time in a long time... We simply have to offer, "God, how can I uplift them today?" He loves to tell you because that is His heart. He loves to see you act like Him! And don't expect a booming voice from Heaven. Just go with what crosses your mind. ALL GOOD THINGS ARE FROM HIM!!! You didn't think up that nice thing all by yourself. It's His idea. Run with it.

Does healing happen everyday? Maybe not like my toe, BUT every need I have is met in Him every single day. His heart is for me...every single day. He loves to show me He loves me...every single day.

Yep, this is pretty much our life. Oh, there are some really hard days, but even on those days, God does amazing things. It is up to me to expect them, to receive them, to rejoice in them.

Praying your enjoy a typical day, too...
Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Time Passes By

Time passes.

Another day of wondering what to say...and not really knowing.

How do I convey the journey I am on without sanding morose or harming the innocent or revealing too much about the not so innocent...of which, I am one. I don't know, so I say nothing...and time passes.

Then, something wondrous happens--a breakthrough, a new perspective, a light dawns. I want to tell you, but it occurs to me that it will be meaningless for you because you do not know the battle fought to win even a small victory.

Spoils mean nothing when they appear to be nothing more than items found on the road.

However, when they are hard fought, they are trophies--articles for the mantel, stories to be told, things to be bragged over.

They are the things calling forth rejoicing...over and over again...as time passes.

A phone call from a prodigal child...
Flowers from a husband with heart turned home after an absence...
A dinner filled with laughter with family once estranged...
A lick on the fingers by a pet safely returned home...
Assurance that God in Heaven is above all things, loves deeply, is ever forgiving, and desires to be gracious...

Such things made precious by the battle to win them. They are not everyday items to be acknowledged with a polite smile and forgotten. They are treasures, and they cannot be treated as less. Not now. Not as time passes...

For these are the things that keep our hearts steady. These are the times when hope is born and nourished, perserverance shows its fruits, and faith becomes solid. Such times we rail against and hate, and such times we would not trade for the treasures they bestow is worth the heart ache and tears necessary to win them.

These are the times, the gifts, the circumstances gone well, that we record in our minds and hearts. These are the ones we right on our heads and hands. These are the ones we talk about while we sit or walk along the road. These are the very things that strengthen us for the next battle, let us believe in greater spoils, and keep our hand on the sword when the war seems to be going badly. Riches pulled from the storehouse that sustain us through the next seige.

But first we have to store them...in treasure chests of journals, momentos to remind us, the hearts of precious friends. Places to draw them from when we need them.

It is easy to withdraw when the battle comes. Pride does not like to be seen struggling or in need. Explaining what is at stake or expressing the intensity of the fight can be impossible. Other's not understanding can dishearten us. But when victory comes, we want all we know to rejoice with us...even when they don't--can't--really understand.

So it is with others who wish to show their spoils.

So it is with me.

Someday soon I will share about the treasured spoils. They may seem insignificant to you. In fact, to you, they are. However, take a moment to remember your hard fought battle and the glory of your victory. The one that left you shouting joyously while tears of exhaustion and relief ran down your face. Remember that victory, and rejoice with me as though indeed this were the same...because for me, it is.

And when you bring your spoils to share, with stories to tell sharing heartbreak and exultation along the way, I'll listen. I'll be amazed. And I will put them in the storehouse of my heart where I can find them to bring out when you need them next.

That is what friends do...no matter how much time passes by...


Copyright Jerri Phillips 2009
Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Gratitude 19 -- The Way You See Me

This morning I sat on the deck and spent some time with DADDY. This is my place I go to curl up with Him, to laugh with Him, to thank Him, to tell Him how much He means to me. Today, though, He had a request for me. Would I do something for Him? Yes. Absolutely. What?

"Tell me how thankful you are for how I made you and see you?"

A silent second in which I processe the surprise request. Then I took a deep breath.

1. Thank you that I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
2. Thank you that I have a purpose, and it is good.
3. Thank you that I am beautiful.
4. Thank you that I am creative beyond my present dreams.
5. Thank you that I am kind.
6. Thank you that I am generous.
7. Thank you that I am gracious.
8. Thank you that I am patient.
9. Thank you that I am joyful--hilariously so.
10. Thank you that I am loving.
11. Thank you that I am incomparable.
12. Thank you that I am amazing.
13. Thank you that I persevere.
14. Thank you that I am humble.
15. Thank you that I am forever before you.
16. Thank you that when your eyes roam the earth to find someone to uphold, I am the one they fall on.
17. Thank you that I am the apple of your eye.
18. Thank you that I am the lost sheep you searched for, found, and carried home.
19. Thank you that you rejoice over me with singing.
20. Thank you that you that I am hidden in the shadow of your wings.
21. Thank you that I call to you and know you answer.
22. Thank you that I am the joy of your heart.
23. Thank you that I am disciplined with love.
24. Thank you that I am fully equipped for every good work you have called me to.
25. Thank you that everything I do prospers.

Thank you that I am your Beloved--
chosen, adored, desired,
that I delight you,
that I make your heart sing,
that I impassion you,
that I am the one your leave your throne for,
the one that enraptures you,
the very one you long for.

And you can thank God that you are all of those things, too.

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"It's not the wind in our hair that makes us free. It's the movement of the Spirit, the growth of our invisible side." --Amber Haines

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My simple life plan: To live the kind of life that when asked, "If you could be anybody, who would you be?", I'd choose me.

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