Best Prayer App, NYTimes, Good Reads & the handling of Stress: 10 Links for an Amazing Weekend
Why Doing Lent This Year Is What You Really Need . . . . . (and a Free Family Lent & Easter Devotional)

Why Life isn’t a Race & What Success Really is

A Holy Experience

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So, we’re sort of in the midst of this. What it looks like to pack for a family of 8. :) Am I crazy? Uh… Don’t answer that :) And when you’re Canadian? And don’t have a TV? And have never watched the Duggars pack? You just pray a lot when packing for 8 — and use various tape to kid-color code the gallon bags with outfits for each day, labelled by activity. #staytuned #missionstrip #sanitymanifesto #radical

So…. while we wind up the happy chaos packing here (more on that soon, Lord willing!)… One Thousands Gifts celebrates its 60th “Only.God.For.His.Glory.Alone” week on the NYTimes Bestseller’s list, and Randy Alcorn reflects on what’s hit him the hardest as he’s read One Thousand Gifts — a heart-preparing post for Lent and Easter —- and I’m remembering this post and where we were a year ago this week and trying to find & pack matching socks for 8 & pulling on my own rainbow socks again.

A beautiful homeschooling mama invites me to come have lunch with her and her friend in New York City.

I wear all black.

Pull on my black boots.

And in my black boots —

This armour — this crazy pair of handknit rainbow-striped socks.

Sometimes you have to wear His promises to remember to keep walking.

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I’m not going to lie: My knees trembled.

But when  you’re shod in the gospel, that prism of hope, you just keep taking the next step and you don’t let anything keep you.

The next wild leap of faith, right there at Rockefeller Center, down between 5th and 6th Avenue.

Emilie meets me on the corner, out in front of NBC studios.

She is wearing pink and a smile even warmer. I shake her daughters’ hands, Lindsay and Annie, and I nod and say I always wanted to be an Annie, but I was meant to be just a plain Ann wearing black and her rainbow socks.

Emilie says we’ll have lunch, Emilie and Lindsay and Annie and their friend and this farm girl, after their friend finishes up her morning work.

We’ll just watch her friend finish up her show from a quiet corner?

I like quiet corners.

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It’s only when a make-up artist brushes my shiny chin that I get confused?

When a sound man looks for a place to clip a microphone on all my black.

When Emilie’s dear friend, Kathie Lee Gifford, leans close to say, “Honey, you’re hiding behind your hair and we want to see that you and all that joy!”

That’s when I realize this could look different than what I was thinking?

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The whole time I’m praying that I don’t look like the deer-caught-in-headlights like I feel.

Did you know that your heart can sing that quietly anywhere — “Standing, standing, standing on the promises of God my Savior!”

Kathie Lee holds up One Thousand Gifts and a bit of my heart between those covers and she talks about how God’s changed her as she read the pages and from that corner where the camera is, it’s true, I may or may not have been shaking in my boots —

But I know what’s in those boots and whose promises cover me and I smile straight ahead anyways…

{Consider pausing music by clicking the speaker icon at the bottom of the left sidebar? If reading in a reader or via email, click here to view the clip of a farm girl and Kathie Lee on the Today Show? }

After Kathie Lee makes us laugh and blush and clap —

We all slip away for lunch at Neary’s and Noreen meets us at the door with her accent and these shining Irish eyes.

Kathie Lee’s been having lunch here for 23 years and all the regulars are beautifully greyed and worn through to the polish and the place could be on the backstreet of any small town in America — or on the green island. “It’s just a bit of Ireland in New York — a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.”

Kathie Lee waves to Jimmy coming in the door and I pull up rainbow socks in my boots, the riches of His presence the gold to be had anywhere.

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Lambchops, Kathie Lee tells us to order the lambchops, to eat them with our fingers and get the spinach too. She’ll pass out the toothpicks at the end. Emilie winks across the table at me.

We grab hands, sisters in a circle, and pray before the meal. Kathie Lee praying for Annie and Lindsay and Emilie and for us to walk in truth and who we are in Christ and not to let the enemy steal our joy. And she thanks the Lord for Noreen bringing out our plates. Noreen blushes, thanks her for prayers, and there is gold in this.

Emilie and Kathie Lee ask about kids.

Ask about pigs and fields and we talk about Jesus in center of culture and clinging to grace and praying for the gift of being broken and becoming the gift and steeping in Scripture to know who we are and the best color for walls and boys shooting potato spitballs and the sovereignty of God and the vocation of motherhood and beauty from ashes. It was a wondrously real and long lunch.

There were tears. There were even longer prayers again and squeezed hands. And Kathie Lee did pass around the toothpicks at the end.  There’s something gloriously real and honest about picking your teeth with friends.

Kathie Lee looked over at me, her mouth full of “The Doctor’s Brushsticks” and her eyes all glinting happy, “We’ll count these toothpicks as gifts too, don’t you think, girls?”

And we all laugh too loud and  when we take what we’ve been given and call it grace, this picks out all the grit in between and all is grace.  

I saw it later, after Emilie and Annie and Lindsay and Kathie Lee had all hugged and we’d all waved this lingering, laughing goodbye.

Saw it somewhere near the Rockefeller Center and far from the farm, somewhere near 7th Avenue, a sign lit up with that one word over and over again:

“Gifts”

I believe that, right down to the toe-end of me — that His grace is everywhere, written right into the walls of this world.

And that GIFTS sign, it hung right across the street from a billboard that read “How to Succeed” —  right there above the signs with the arrows.

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Right there where we all have to decide what fork in the road to take, the only way we can turn and really succeed.

And that is the thing, to forget all the neon facade of everything else. The only turn we can take toward real success — is to do what we are made for: glorify God, one step after the other.  

Man’s only successful end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him for ever — His grace upon gifts upon grace.

Life isn’t a race — but a grace.

And you can always enjoy the journey when you are enjoying Him.

Jesus is the joy and He is the journey and He is the destination and success is simply a matter of enjoying God right where you are. 

Back home on the farm, the sun sets across the fields.

I pull off my boots. I put on my old Birks  and am ridiculously happy to be back to the everyday mess. I don’t have to race. I get to enjoy Him…here! 

I read stories to a toothless kid, help a boy finish up the next page of math, wash the dishes, light falling in long lengths down the wall.

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And when the phone rings and I reach over a boy fallen asleep on my shoulder, book in hand, it’s Kathie Lee and she says she just wanted to call — just whisper one word.

Thank you.

And I shake my head in the middle of this happy chaos and whisper it with herthank you —  all that really is real in this one spinning world:

Glory to Him on the lips —

and His promises in neon rainbow hope right there at the feet.

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Related:

Why it’s Worth it to Get out of Your Comfort Zone

One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

Sharing over here today with Randy Alcorn 

And if your tuned into Instagram this week, we’re counting more of our crazy messy gifts and glimpses of what’s up with the packing over there — and too, we’ll be sharing #GodValentines for you (straight out of Scripture) on Instagram and  in our Facebook Community… oh, How He Loves You!  Live Loved. 

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Join us? And happily change everything by keeping your own crazy list of One Thousand Gifts? Dare you to Joy! Take the dare to Fully Live!
1. Grab January’s Free JOY DARE Calendar with 3 daily prompts to go on a scavenger hunt for God’ gifts … {or write down any gifts you choose. Use the free app.} 2. Count 3 gifts a day and you have over #1000gifts in 2013. Jot them down in the new numbered One Thousand Gifts devotional journalThe Farmer’s writing in his with a red pen and daily – the numbers in the journal already there! Motivating… 3. Share your gifts everyday in our beautiful Facebook community to enter everyday for the monthly $100 Amazon draw (or link to your blog post with your list of gifts). 4. Count #1000gifts in 2013 and enter to win a Nikon DSLR camera with lens. Slow Down. Savor Life. Give thanks. Believing something is one thing. But the Best only comes when you decide to Be Living it. Please, jump in, make your life about giving thanks to God! — Just add the direct URL to your specific 1000 gift list post… and if you join us, we humbly ask that you please help us find each other in our refrain of thanks by sharing the community’s graphic within your post.
Give thanks to the Lord! His Love Endures Forever!

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