Counting to 1,000 (462-481)

“You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever.” Psalm 30:11-12 (NIV)

Giving thanks to God, I’m counting up one thousand gifts  from above. May we give Him thanks forever!

462. how they all three thrill at seeing the first humming-bird at the new feeder

463. the black-capped chickadee, the deep red cardinal and the electric blue indigo bunting at the finch feeder

464. raindrops on lilacs

465. the captivating yet familiar scent of fresh lilac blossoms

466. tulips sprinkled with raindrops

467. tiny bare toes that dance happily across the stage

468. how her face beams as she does the caterpillar/butterfly dance on the big stage

469. her “Tigger tail”

470. how thoughtfully she moves to Dvorak’s music

471. how they giggle about their “not serious” ballet

472. instructors with a contagious passion for the art of dance and students who excel under their direction

473. orange popsicles to savor

474. time to explore the endless possibilities of wooden pattern blocks

475. hairpins and the kind neighbor’s 5 minute lesson on hair buns

476. frilly costumes that make them feel so beautiful

477. medicine for allergies

478. the sweet Granny who introduces them to Rosemaling and the immeasurably wonderful art instructor who inspires us all

479. Sunday evening fellowship with some familiar and some unfamiliar faces

480. protection from the devastating storm nearby

481. a quiet, slow morning with a flexible schedule

Counting to 1,000 (425-461)

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:6-7 (NIV)

In an effort to overflow with thankfulness, I’m counting up one thousand gifts for which I am ever-so thankful to God. And this week I’m getting ever-so close to half way there! Thanks for joining me in this adventure in gratitude.

425. yellow warblers dashing through the tree tops

426. low, rumbling thunder in the early morning that sends the littlest, pajama-clad daughter dashing beneath the covers

427.  warm, cozy teddy bears to snuggle tight

428. a pair of robins, bobbin’ along together in the backyard

429. raindrops falling gently on young leaves

430. the color green blanketing the landscape

431. bright yellow polka-dotting the carpet of green

432. goldfinches at the feeder constantly — eating 10 meals a day

433. tulips blooming at last

434. fistfuls of dandelion bouquets

435. a hot, humid playdate at the park with sweet friends

436. 1 Peter 4:8 in her beautiful cursive penmanship — such godly wisdom presented to us on our anniversary

437. bicycles, cul-de-sacs and circles of friends

438. red roses — 15 of them — one for each year we’re celebrating

439. a short and quiet walk, hand-in-hand, after dinner

440. how she leaps and skips and grins ear-to-ear

44. four eggs perfectly cracked by young hands — and no trace of the eggshell

442. her homemade buttermilk biscuits with red raspberry jam

443. raindrops pearling on the hostas

444. a sunny yellow umbrella that lets them splash playfully among the puddles

445. a last-minute robin tea party with the neighbor kids

446. the cooing of the mourning doves

447. how his skillful hands work the long piece of douglas fir

448. smiles of old friends visiting church

449. how beautifully she sings “His Eye is on the Sparrow”

450. lessons learned in Joshua and promises faithfully kept by the One who is Faithful and True

451. encouraging reports from Nicaraguan missionaries

452. the bluebird that makes a rare visit

453. swings sailing high, powered by strong little legs

454. the ice cubes and sweet sisterly prayers that comfort her busted fat lip

455. the perky little ears and bouncy leaps of joy as distant ragtime music floats nearer on the breeze

456. happy hops when the ice cream truck finally comes into view

457. Tweety Bird ice cream on a stick, with bubble gum eyes, and a rainbow snow cone

458. her familiar, friendly words printed neatly on a postcard from Philly

459. the summery smell of fresh-cut grass

460. summer drawing ever-closer

461. coconut fudge

Counting to 1,000 (388-424)

 “…let there be thankfulness to God.”  Ephesians 5:4 (NLT)


 Thank you, dear readers, for joining me as I count up one thousand gifts for which I am most thankful to God. 

388. joyful skipping in the spring weather as the shadows lengthen

389. how my daddy teaches them to march onward

390. 15 years of having and holding the best man I know

391. the busy, familiar hum of my mama’s old teal-blue Singer and four other hands working the fabric

392. wavy golden locks soaking up the sunlight

393. her scrunched-up nose smile

394. rays of golden sunshine tickling the fresh green grass

395. a goose rippling through the still waters

396. muskrats circling near the pond’s surface

397. thoughtful grandparents who love and listen and encourage

398. trees to embrace

399. deer peeking out of the woods

400. heartfelt good-bye hugs

401. bittersweet good-byes and tear-stained cheeks because we love them and we will miss them

402. seven tiny tadpoles adopted and brought home in borrowed jars with lids

403. the verdant weeping willow

404. hunting for duckweed in the pond — to feed our new tadpole friends

405. rubber boots that encourage me to venture farther and deeper and closer

406. the refreshing scent of May’s come-and-go raindrops

407. the cheery whistle of the red-winged blackbird perched a-top a metal post

408. a beaver rippling through the stillness as I travel the lonely path winding by the pond, through the woods, into the meadow

409. the glee chorus of frogs singing loudly as ducks glide smoothly into a watery landing

410. her sweet, warm, so-fresh-from-God feel as my arms cradle Dorothy Joy, just 12 hours old 

411. how quietly she folds her laundry on my bed

412. the not-for-prom, Mother’s-Day corsage that their sweet little voices mistakenly call a “crochet”

413. a pile of Mother’s Day surprises, four chocolate-smudged cheeks, and two rosy little girls in white lace to hold tight and call my own

414. swans gathering again in the silvery waters of evening

415. a picturesque trail nearby, nestled between the trees and the lake

416. strong little legs to pedal far

417. the dandelion picker

418. buds transforming into leaves

419. the bunny’s big, bouncy feet

420. ripples in the lake water

421. the whiteness of birch bark

422. seeds hidden deep in muddy fields of black

423. the less-traveled, winding dirt roads

424. the sun setting and reflecting gloriously, in stunning hues of pink, purple and gold

Counting to 1,000 (362-387)

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  -1 Thessalonians 5:16-18


362. her whistling conversation with the song birds

363. how she sits in the swing, blowing bubbles and wearing her bike helmet

364. the season’s first picnic on the patio

365. raindrops on window panes

366. little feet tip-toeing in ballet slippers, hair up in bobby pins, learning to dance 

367. chalk tulips and daffodils on the driveway

368. Easter lilies blooming

369. teaching them the history of John Newton’s life and Amazing Grace

370. hearing the MN Teen Challenge Choir sing Amazing Grace and hearing their bold testimonies

371. how sweet she looks in her new costume for the caterpillar dance 

372. holding my daddy’s hand

373. black tie mousse cake from Olive Garden

374. a quiet dinner with my husband

375. Bethany Hamilton’s inspiring story (Soul Surfer)

376. the Flour Tower tour at Mill City Museum and how she already knows about spontanious combustion

377. how she delights in teaching them to sew and how they delight in the buttons they sew

378. all the giggles as they sing along to “Be Like a Duck” and “Silly Lullaby” and “Snuggle Puppy”

379. how she sleeps so soundly with her round little face tucked into the hood of her pink raincoat

380. his “Donald Duck” voice and her endless giggles

381. snow flurries on May Day

382. the sweet little neighbor who delivers a May Day surprise

383. heartfelt bedtime hugs 

384. mud pies with earth worms

385. a Royal Robin Tea Party with hot tea and cucumber sandwiches

386. shooting bubbles in the yard

387. two dates with my husband in one weekend

Counting to 1,000 (285-316)


Psalm 105
Hallelujah! Thank God! Pray to Him by name! 
Tell everyone you meet what He has done! 
Sing Him songs, belt out hymns, translate His wonders into music!
Honor His holy name with Hallelujahs, you who seek God. Live a happy life!
Keep your eyes open for God, watch for His works; be alert for signs of His presence. 
Remember the world of wonders He has made, His miracles, and the verdicts He’s rendered—
O seed of Abraham, His servant, O child of Jacob, His chosen.

285. the once-lost-now-found ballet slippers

286. the kind husband who hears the frustration in my voice and comes home early

287. little hearts eager to forgive

288. how smart they feel in their AWANA vests

289. celebrating accomplishments in Scripture memory with a small Cubbie bear

290. the cuteness of hair done up in “piggy buns”

291. dear little friends — all smiley

292. the beauty of a friend 36-weeks pregnant

293. the little ones who came and sat in my lap

294. her joy in serving up her first batch of “smashed” potatoes

295. 3-D houses made in art class — with more and more features diligently added after class

296. the sound of spring peepers

297. the sunset – all purple and orange and pink

298. snow melting on tulips

299. buds on the lilac bush

300. dirt under my fingernails from digging in the flower beds

301. fidgety little ones lined up, waving palm branches

302. how their faces beam as they march down the aisle

303. science in the kitchen — with onions and tears

304. four glorious hours spent face-to-face with a sweet, encouraging friend

305. his promise to pray for me

306. my own turn pulling her in the big red wagon

307. the tulips’ last hoorah

308. sunshine

309. apple pie made with some of last fall’s harvest and shared with neighbors

310. strangers who provide us free tickets to ride the carousel

311. her giddy-up giggles as she rides around

312. how she looks back and exclaims, “Ponies!”

313. the carousel’s cheery melody

314. the friendly cashier who admires her manners and touches her heart

315. how they belt out the words to “Remarkable Cows”

316. excellent test results that encourage both of us

“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” -1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Counting to 1,000 (251-284)

 “From the fullness of His grace, we all have received one blessing after another.” -John 1:16

 251. the melody of a 5-year-old eloquently reading the Lord’s prayer

252. the resolve of the 8-year-old memorizing Psalm 23

253. her gentle voice singing sweetly while her fingers dance across the piano keys

254. air fresh with the dampness of spring

255. a kitchen spilling over with popcorn, popcorn, and more popcorn

256. the excitement and giggles that gather as it pops

257. how she helps her tie her shoes

258. the excitement of bringing special friends to AWANA

259. the sweet way she takes her little friend’s hand and shows her what to do

260. four silly ones eating gummy bears in the backseats 

261. a nice long jaunt around the neighborhood — chasing a pink scooter and a pink bike

262. how they both wait so faithfully at the intersections

263. how — over and over — the little one hops off her bike and runs, grinning wild, back to walk with me, her little hand in mine

264. backyard tulips peaking through the soil

265. dinner cooking outside on the grill

266. spring storms that bring rain instead of snow

267. the pitter-patter of raindrops on the window, lulling me to sleep

268. 70 degrees in the forecast

269. grass that turns green almost overnight 

270. earthworms that creep out of muddy soil, trying not to drown in the rain

271. the bookworms that creep out of their bedrooms, eager to share stories

272. the little friend who alarms me that my little one is hurt

273. the patience of a sister who endlessly pulls the injured one here-and-there-and-everywhere in the big red wagon

 274. the tiny twisted ankle that heals quickly

275. a quiet afternoon for reading, all wrapped up in a cozy blanket

276. letting them lick off the chocolate icing on the beaters 

277. a half-chocolate cake to celebrate one’s half birthday and the other’s spiritual birthday

278. the box-elder bug that very nearly ruined the cake

279. another dinner cooking outside on the grill

280. big old’ sweet iced tea

281. the short path between friends’ houses

282. how her face beams as she gently pushes our little neighbor on the swing

283. 75 minutes fully devoted to prayer

284. a Sunday supper that requires a table for 17

Look at the Birds!

“Look!” my big girl gasps, running toward the window. “Robins! In our yard!”


Quickly the little one and I join her at the window, and together we welcome the feathered strangers. The freshly falling snow of late March does not deter the playful robins as they flutter about happily in the backyard.  An especially plump robin perches high in the branches, a patch of snow still clinging to his red breast and his feet.

“Cheer up, cheer up,” the first robins sing.

Cheer up, indeed! Even as the snow blankets us again, their songs give us hope for spring as the end of a long, harsh winter draws nearer. Soon will come nests and eggs. Soon will come worms for the chirping baby birds. Soon will come little birds testing their wings, learning to fly.

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” -Matthew 6:26

March melts into April, and the birds return to this Frozen Tundra in great numbers. Red-winged black birds, robins, sparrows, Canadian geese and — my favorite — swans.

As I’m out and about all week long, I see swans everywhere — dozens of them. On the way to church, on a walk in the neighborhood, on the way to and from dinner Thursday night, on the way to pick up a friend’s little boy, and on the way to and from a birthday party — swans, swans, swans! Soon to pair off and settle in ponds and lakes, the swans migrate together, and oh! What joy as they surround us — these amazing creatures, full of grace! 

I look at the birds, and God reminds me of His faithfulness.

Without my camera along on any of these trips, my inner shutterbug longs to capture the swans, to store up the grace moment and treasure it.

The week draws to its end; Saturday evening before sunset our family loads up in the minivan and heads back to the one spots where, earlier in the day, nearly a hundred swans gathered in a low, flooded area in a corn field. Leaving my family in the van, watching closely, I head eagerly into the muddy field. My newest tennis shoes greet the muddy field and I manuever carefully, happy to find a narrow path of dry weeds between two sections of the field. I nearly sink into the mud as I approach the water.

Swans! Hundreds of gloriously graceful swans — and several ducks, too. The honking and quacking mingles into noisy bird music. Most of the swans glide gently across the water, but some fish for food underwater.

Suddenly a few swans soar up into the sky. Their black bills confirm they are Trumpeters. Their necks stretch long and wings mount high toward the clouds —  right over my head! I pull the hood of my sweatshirt over my head, just in case.  

A glorious swan moment. Finally captured! I stand in the muddy field, thankful I migrated to the right place at exactly the right moment.

Looking down, white feathers float, scattered across the water.

“He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” -Psalm 91:4

I look at the birds, and God reminds me of His faithfulness.

God keeps showing me how faithful He is. May I also suggest this post from last spring: Orchestrating the Swans?

Counting to 1,000 (221-250)

“All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.” -2 Corinthians 4:15

 221. tulips springing forth, the color of sunshine

222. explorations with mosaics

223. swans in the neighborhood 

224. the bald eagle soaring high, reminding us that strength will rise when we wait upon the LORD (Isaiah 40:31)

225. how they rejoice with dancing and signing as they sing along to “Today is the Day”

226. swans flying overhead in pairs

227. Lincoln’s stories about Real Life

228. a Saturday afternoon date at DQ

229. hot fudge sauce

230. driving little boys and girls on the “art bus”

231. new dresses that arrive just in time to wear to the concert

232. sparrows and house finches gathering at the backyard feeder

233. the arrival of the newest, tiniest member at church – Micah

234. little girls in pretty party dresses, celebrating birthdays

235. the sweet friend who serves up the best-ever hot chocolate at Mocha Monkey

236. peeking into the windows of the original, 150-plus-year-old Scandia Church building

237. girlish giggles caused by their own April foolin’

238. more swans — flocking in the wet fields nearby

239. the first sight of the entire backyard in five months

240. little girls dancing the caterpillar dance and flying off as butterflies

241. feet sinking into mud as I tramp eagerly through the field

241. hundreds of trumpeter swans — finally, finally caught by my camera — as they gather in a farmer’s flooded field

242. the majestic trumpeting of the swans as they fly overhead

243. the feathers that remind me of the One who covers me (Psalm 91:4)

244. hands stretched high, reaching for Him

245. sweatshirt weather with sunshine, too!

246. clothes warmed by the dryer

247. aisle seats so little ones can dance in the aisles

248. youths that grow tired and weary and fall asleep in exhaustion (Isaiah 40:30)

249. the strong daddy who carries his sleeping daughter

250. the strong, Everlasting, Abba Father Who carries His trusting daughter  

Counting to 1,000 (192-220)

“I will remember the deeds of the LORD… I will meditate on all Your works and consider all Your mighty deeds.” -Psalm 77:11-12

192. the welcome stranger who sings that spring is here

193. playful robins in the freshly fallen March snow

194. the kind neighbor with a snowblower

195. pink fuzzy slippers

196. a bubble bath on a cold night

197. the successful surgery for a little friend

198. music that prepares our hearts for Easter – Happy Day! – forever we are changed

199. a fresh batch of library books

200. tiny pieces of paper scattered everywhere – because she’s creating

201. watch-them-grow moments

202. the timeless joy of making paper dolls

203. how she pays such close attention to the details

204. paper doll houses

206. puffy pink clouds at sunset

207. dreams  

208. the sound of his voice on the other end of the phone line

209. all-around sillyness while playing in the ball pit

210. busy hands preparing the house for his return

211. lemon meringue pie — a special surprise!

212. heartfelt homecoming hugs

213. how that  precious two-year-old says, “Pizza!” and “Eggs!” with so much enthusiasum

214. pom-poms swishing as sweet little girlfriends all cheer together in the living room

215. how she helps her daddy memorize Scripture

216. another afternoon spent sharing and hearing testimonies

214. homeschool moms helping each other

215. her twirls and tiptoes as she shows off her new dance costume

216. new towels for the bathroom

217. warming up another little hand in my coat pocket

218. spring jackets that fit just right

219. hearing her heart as we study God’s mighty acts in creation together

220. a good night’s sleep

“All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.” -2 Corinthians 4:15

Counting to 1,000 (168-191)

2 Corinthians 4:15 – “All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.”

168. starting a journey through all 66 books of the Bible

169. big hands showing little hands how to tie shoes

170. the smile that says, “I did it! I did it!”

171. the sweet friend who generously shares her sewing talents

172. the pink and purple reversible bag they made together

173. tulips and daffodils peeking through the soil

174. the bird chirping in the tree top

175. frosty white tree branches

176. hot water

177. finishing book one of 12

178. little girls in black peacoats swinging their Bible bags

179. the patio that emerges from its snowy cocoon

180. foggy mornings

181. rainboots

182. pink bicycles, pink scooters, pink helmets and pink cheeks

183. holding her hand while we sing

184. Sunday naps

185. robin sightings in the neighborhood

186. finishing a good book

187. walking with her to the mailbox

188. her excitement in finding a Lincoln Brewster CD in the mail

189. how she remembers and paints about smashing rotten tomatoes last fall in the neighbor’s garden

190. how she remembers and paints about butterfly meadow   

191. the sweet Papa who mails us hope for summer — a life-like butterfly in a jar!

John 1:16 – “From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another.”