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I know I have been out of communication for a few days.  On Sunday after worship I posted the Sunday acrostic and took off for a couple of glorious days with good friends, their whole family including their  daughter’s dog who is one of the few dogs in the world that I have not won over, (sigh) and all of their grandchildren who vied for my attention and told me stories, involved me in crafts…. and oh yeah we had a fantastic Thanksgiving Dinner….So that leaves me a few days behind (okay 5) on posting on my prayer challenge to give thanks for 31 days and discover Crazy Joy.  (see annvoskamp.com for more information on this prayer project).  Grab a cup of coffee and lets see what these five days have brought forth.

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Day 7…. It’s days like this that remind me that God has blessed me with marvelous friends.  The depth, breadth and quality of friends that I have is truly an amazing gift from God.  I traveled Sunday to see my friends and their family, grandkids and dog….. the things for which I was challenged to give thanks for that day are:  baked, stirred, eaten.  As I arrived at their home and everyone tried to talk to me at the same time, I was being ignored by my friend who was in the kitchen baking, stirring and preparing the Turkey dinner.  She was mixing up the flour slurry and making gravy.  Then she mixed up a cornstarch slurry and made a special gravy just for me.  She had baked the turkey without any stuffing and made stuffing in 2 crock pots.  The smaller crock pot had the gluten free stuffing.  All of that meal was baked and stirred with a lot of love and was eaten with deep appreciation.  I give thanks for the friends God has given me.

Day 8  Prayed for…Because I pray every day for the people in my life, for the issues in my life, for the world …. it’s hard to pick out what to give thanks for.  Not everything that I have prayed for has changed, not all the answers have been the ones that I have desired.  But I do give thanks that God has listened to everything that I have prayed for and about.  He has heard the desire of my heart.  He has prepared an answer and at the right time he will reveal the answer.  Truly the best gift of prayer is knowing that God listens, really listens.  The second best gift of prayer is that in the process I am learning to listen for the ways in which God speaks to me.  The third best gift in prayer is that God answers each prayer with the very best gift for me.  

Day 9  Things praised for:  It would be so easy to repeat day 8 above….. or day 7 above because I have praised God for all of those things.  But really what brings me great joy is to see how God has touched the lives of others.  When friends and I talk about our faith journey it is so great to see the unfolding of God’s hand in all of our lives.  When I see the changes in the lives of people I pray for then it is so amazing to see the gift of God in healing, both spiritually and physically.  When I see the ways in which the voices of strangers have joined me in my concerns for the world I am so grateful that I don’t walk alone…. God and that great cloud of witnesses are with me.

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Day 10  Hard to thank for…What is hard to thank for is the high levels of anxiety that I see around me.  People are worried about the congregations they are in and they keep turning to the Presbytery for help.  People are worried about their ministers and keep turning to the Presbytery for help.  Two of us (including yours truly) are planning to be away for 3 weeks this month and that is causing anxiety for those who want answers and responses NOW.  As much as I realize that I am not responsible for their anxiety, it is still hard to hear and hard to respond to.  But I know from my own journey of faith and prayer, that anxiety is the starting point from which we have an opportunity.  We can turn to God and trust him, or we can start running around frantically trying to fix things.  ……Let’s give thanks to God that he will take care of us and simply relax and trust him.  That is exactly what I am going to do…. get on that plane, relax and enjoy my grandchildren and know that God has it covered here.  My thanksgiving sermon was titled “Don’t worry, be thankful” and I addressed the issue of anxiety and how this was just an opportunity to trust God and build faith.  Let’s resolve to trust God and let anxiety go.

Day 11 change….None of us likes change.  Congregations complain all the time about change.  Those of us on facebook complain all the time about how it changes.  Even the administrators of wordpress keep making little changes that make me wonder…. Let’s face it change is all around us.  And I believe that change is necessary.  That doesn’t mean that I like it any better than you, or can cope with it any better than you, but I do accept that change is inevitable.  The past few days the autumn weather has changed, from cool,crisp and fresh to breezy, blowy, downright cold.  Today when I haul laundry down the stairs I am going to turn the handle and get the water flowing to the radiators.  Everything changes and we have to adapt.  What does not change however is our God.  He is the same yesterday, tomorrow and today.  When we can’t cope with the changes around us he give us peace and assures us of his presence.  To my way of thinking, the only way we can embrace change is to trustingly walk with the one who does not change.  God is good and he is always with us.

Phew, when you take a chunk of days at a time it sure makes God’s involvement in your life seem huge.  Isn’t that a marvelous thing?