A Thanksgiving and Advent Dare

                          Everywhere around us, people are looking for a smile.                                           An encouraging word.  Someone to help them believe in Hope.                                                    And never more than this time of year.

Digital Camera

“I was miserable at [the new] school every day…  Then, one day, the girl who sat next to me leaned over and said, ‘your float is so pretty! Everyone is talking about how clever you are and that obviously your parents didn’t make it for you.  I just wanted you to know.’  She gave me a big smile and I smiled back.  The person in front of her turned around and agreed…

“I have always been grateful to those two girls who showed me such kindness and included me in their circle of friends.  It made me a stronger person and I have never again felt like an outcast.  Being the new kid can be very hard.  I never forgot that and always tried to be the person who welcomed new kids and showed them the ropes.  I made a lot of great friends that way!”

~ Debbie Acklin, The New Kid, Chicken Soup for the Soul Think Positive for Kids

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Digital CameraOn a recent Sunday afternoon, sunlight dappled through the trees, outlining graceful branch shadows, shimmering the gold leaf floating on the stream and stirring rivulets of joy over me.  The elusive kind of happy that spills like tiny waterfalls here and there across life, even in these more trying  times of late…blanketing cozily with rest and contentment…and lighting hope within me, tossing crackling piles of doubt in the air like the leafy ones  scattered there round my feet.  There is nothing I have not already carried if you but surrender…

I noticed the bridge perfectly mirrored in the water then and clicked first one image.  Then another…and another…Monet collage of foliage rainbows gazing back upon itself from the moving blue,  as quenching in beauty as sparkling cider on the rocks.  Had I been alone, I could have laughed with the Autumn breeze as it ruffled it’s refreshing through my hair.  Only a ways a way, a group of picnickers were whooping, voices floating like kites to the white puffs of lambs wool frolicking in skies above.  Mmm.  This day…a painting on water.

A thought riffled at the back of my mind… one I’d been pondering lately as a possible Advent theme for my blog.  Just a snippet here…another there… and I was trying to piece the puzzle of what He’d been stirring on my heart.  You are blessed to be a blessing.  So much is going unnoticed…the heavy-hearted lady ahead of you in line at the grocery store, the neglected child standing beside another, the co-worker you overheard talking about her mom’s serious illness…  You can be the mirror image of My Bridge to such as these in the blink of an eye…

I recalled the woman who dropped her groceries on the floor recently, how I automatically picked them up, settled them on the conveyor for her, added a separator bar.  The momentary gratefulness in her eyes as they met mine.  A simple act… nothing really.

I saw again the unsmiling, almost too weary-looking face for a little one following silently at an adult’s feet…how her crooked smile tugged across her rosy cheeks when I grinned at her, silently telling her I think you are beautiful… and feeling that wordless word connection between us somehow…

And I could hear the strained voice that volleyed across the crowded breakroom to me last week…a stranger talking about a seriously ill family member, so that I didn’t feel I could walk up and join in the conversation, but her plaintive words formed a prayer on my lips for her, for her loved one…

Nothing really... I mused again.

Oh, but it is.  These are the simple moments that shine My Heart, brushstrokes of my love, He reminded.  Count them… keep a count of the ones I bring your way for you to do, and then…count the ones who have touched and altered your own life in ordinary yet inestimable ways.

The teacher who brought you out of your shell with her esteem.  The person who took time to write you a note of prayer just when you needed to know I care.  The friend who sent you flowers at work to acknowledge your promotion.

The time you bought an extra peppermint patty during break to slip on a coworker’s desk as a small surprise, following My nudge, for no other reason than you knew her penchant for them.  The moment you turned back from your car trunk recently, realizing you accidentally hadn’t paid for one item…the look on the clerk’s face when you retraced your steps to pay when you could easily have slipped away…

The Joy Dare was just a beginning…   let cognizance of simple life joys and blessings lead you on to keeping tally of all the little ways I want to shine from you.  And to send to you through others too…Because when you write them down, you remember, like ebenezer stones.

But, I wondered… is there a way to do that without appearing to be, hey look at the great things I just did?

It isn’t about that.  It’s about My people growing in reaching out, reflecting Me in the simple, sometimes quicker than a wink moments.  Becoming more aware of those around you and of these passing encounters… so that you are more and more NOTICERS of SIMPLE BLESSINGS given, needed, given again…  life transforming blessings I’m waiting to pour out through you…

CSS Think Positive for Kids front coverAt break on a temporary job recently, I picked up the Chicken Soup Think Positive for Kids book again and began to notice a similar theme running in so many of the heartwarming stories:

  • The little girl(quoted above) who felt so alone and outcast until another child reached out with open praise and friendship.
  • Another whose little son had debated going to a sleepover with a boy who had no other friends – debated because he knew how this kid hung on him and could sometimes be abrasive. How in the end he told his mom, “I think that I need to go.  It would be so sad …for no one to go to his birthday party…” And how he recognized what a difference his decision to be there did mean to that boy…(Shawnelle Eliasen , “It Just Takes One”).
  • The story of the young babysitter who could have walked off with $60 more than the check she was given when a teller read the numbers incorrectly… how when she spoke up about the error, the words of strangers behind her proudly hailing her (“So honest…a true Richmond Girl!”) meant so much more to her than the extra money ever would have lasted.  “Doing the right thing felt good,” she wrote. “Even years later I feel a swelling of pride to think of how my actions represented more than just myself. After all, I was a Richmond Girl.”  (Amanda Yardley Luzzader, “Richmond Girl.”)

I smiled at that and thought…After all…aren’t we the Lord’s “girl or guy?”

By your fruit shall they know Me. Blessed is he who comes in My Name.  (Luke 13:35)  

Mmm.  Fruit.  It comes in so many varieties.

And that’s when the puzzle pieces of this Advent idea seemed to form a sharper image in my mind.

   I want you to invite your readers to join you in keeping this new tally of what may seem the simplest of simple “Ebenezer stones” of blessing. 

Recall the ones I’ve sent you through others.

Begin to take notice in deeper ways of those around you… strangers and friends… loved ones and those who seem prickly.  Look for simple ways you can put My hand in theirs, even for a split second. Then  thank Me for sending them to you …to receive your smile, your words, your reflection of Me. I make you My ambassadors in the simple as well as the momentous.

Keep a weekly tally of these times reflecting the mirror image of My Bridge that leads others to Me.

And so… I invite you, much the same as those of us who have kept track of simple blessings all year –– to join me for Ebenezer Stones Wednesdays now through Advent.  What if those who blog in this upcoming Christmas season begin writing a weekly post about these types of moments?  You could recall when God has used someone’s simple words, smile or gesture to transform you in some way…or tell us about whatever such encounters God brings your way to touch someone else during this season.   And at the end of that post, make a simple list of such moments you are thankful He has given  and made you a partaker.  I have a feeling we will all find new ways of reaching out through hearing your stories!

And if you don’t blog, I invite you to put your own running list in my comments each Wednesday…

Fellow Bloggers – Would you please include the link to your weekly posts in my comments so others can find you too?  🙂

What do you say? 

Won’t you join me in this Thanksgiving and Advent “Ebenezer stone Dare?”  🙂

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But how can people call for help if they don’t know who to trust?

And how can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One who can be trusted?

And how can they hear if nobody tells them?

And how is anyone going to tell them, unless someone is sent to do it?

That’s why Scripture exclaims,

A sight to take your breath away!
Grand processions of people
    telling all the good things of God!

~ Romans 10:14 The Message

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Definition, Ebenezer Stone:  A Stone of Grace, of Help (1 Samuel 7:12)

Lord, I thank you for these Ebenezer Stones:
  • Realizing the store hadn’t charged me for one item and taking it back in to pay
  • Notes and prayers from friends that have come just on time
  • The chance to offer an encouraging smile to someone who looked down this week
  • Bringing to my attention the prayer needs of strangers and leading me to pray right there and then
  • Bringing the woman to me at work who told me she had been praying for my wrist, and how that led us into some conversation about her own life, some prayer needs I could offer
  • For the grocery clerk who, noticing my wrapped wrist, offered to fill out my check for me…
  • For making it possible for us to reflect Jesus, OUR BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATERS

©   Pam Depoyan

Sharing with:

Tell Me a Story        whimsical-wednesdays_edited-1    Beauty in His Grip Button Word Filled Wednesday Linkup

   Imparting Grace   Faithful Friday Blog Hop Party: 4 blogs - 1 party     

Scripture and Snapshot      Teaching What Is Good             Essential Thing devotions

Thursday Favorite Things

Share Your Cup Thursday

  A Holy Experience     Unite @Rich Faith Rising      Monday Praises                                                      Sunday Stillness with Janis Cox 

photos:  all photos mine except for Advent and stones (fotosearch) and Chicken Soup book

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About Pam@Writing...Apples of Gold

I love to hear your thoughts, even chat back and forth amongst comments.Won't you join the conversation? :) ..................................................................................................................... May my stories refresh you, like a whisper from our Father's Heart !
This entry was posted in Ebenezer Stone Stories - taking the "Ebby Dare". Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to A Thanksgiving and Advent Dare

  1. lynndmorrissey says:

    Lovely Pam……such a wonderful reminder of how Ebenezer stones are reminders of His beauty and goodness. I consider my journal a quarry of such stones (and reading them is such a faith-builder). This reminds me, too, of a book I read called Small Stones: A Year of Moments by Fiona Robyn, about noting snippets of moments in writing. Each small stone she writes is almost like a haiku in feel, and yet captures such a magnitude of beauty. I tihnk you would enjoy it. What a wonderful challenge. Thank you! And does this mean your wrist is better, b/c of a longr post? I hope so!
    Love
    Lynn

    • Thanks, Lynn. I never heard of that book, but it sounds good! And a lot like what I was trying to put into words here… I think that is so true about a quarry of such stones in our journals. Well, I am beginning to exercise it a lot and wear the brace mostly as protection when I go out. It is stronger, but it still feels a bit odd and constricted. I think typing helps get it going so I am hoping to do more typing even though it still feels a bit odd and tight to move that way… Each day is better and I’m looking to the day of full healing… 🙂 Thanks!

    • Oh, Lynn! I love that you are the first one to comment! I love this idea, and of course you know I love my journals…and that book I will have to look into…due to my stone obsession…yes….to all here!

  2. Sylvia R says:

    Well! I’d say this post of yours was an Ebenezer moment for me!—as you’ll see if you go to my blog post for today: http://sylvrpen.com/2013/11/rocking-around-the-thanksgiving-table/ Yep, I’ve decided to take up the dare in a little different way, by which I think your ideas are going to enrich our family Thanksgiving get-together next week… Praying they do—and that your wrist heals up completely and gets back fully into working order. It certainly hasn’t kept you from taking fantastic pictures! The ones above are gorgeous! Happy Thanksgiving to you!

    • Wow, wow, wow, Sylvia! You just confirmed this message to me. I wasn’t sure if it was resonating with anyone much, and then started doubting if I should have posted this or if anyone would really want to do it with me. It sounds too simple. It sounds too ordinary. But I just keep thinking God wants to imbue us with greater simplicities in it, if that makes sense, than we usually experience… greater touches of bringing Christmas to hearts around us, and not just in this season… because like you say, I think the idea really stretches beyond Advent. Just thought this is a good starting point. I LOVE all your ideas in your post and look forward to hearing how it all goes with your Ebenezer thanksgiving!! Thank you too for referencing my post here! 🙂

      And thank you for being the first to put your own Ebby-related post link in this first Ebenezer Wed! I hope to see more from others reading here in the coming weeks… 🙂

      I encourage everyone here to go to Sylvia’s post (see her link in her comment above) to get ideas for expanding this Ebenezer stone idea… I would love to see where this goes with everyone!! 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving to you too!

  3. Thank you for sharing these Ebenezer stones with us here at “Tell Me a Story.” It is the little things that do matter. The smile, a kind word, and a simple love action can make a difference.

  4. Pam~~ a thought-provoking post you have brought here to us and certainly does make me stop and THINK~~~about stopping from my busy world and looking toward others who are struggling, having tough times and need a “glimmer” of love from others.

    Sometimes we are so weighed down by our own problems that it restrains us from simply stopping and looking around us. Today was one of those for me~~while my husband finished up our Holiday Grocery Shopping, I stood quietly in line–waiting to pickup some medication for a sudden increase in my Pain. I noticed one young man sitting too quiet–it was obvious there were problems as he seemed to be constantly tugging at his fingers–his eyes cast toward the ground and he truly seemed afraid to look up. But suddenly his eyes raised and as he glanced my way, I caught his attention and simply smiled–he seemed stunned at first, but I noticed his head did Not drop back down! A smile–so very simple.

    A young Mom was in front of me, in a hurry to get through this isle and head outside with her beautiful little girl. Suddenly the child had climbed out of the basket and went running toward a toy display. I would Not let my eyes lose sight of her~~my heart was screaming “what if somebody were to take her” was all I could think as the Mom turned around and I saw that terrible sinking feeling–“Where is my Child?” Without moving my eyes from the child, I told this Mom “I have my eyes on her” as I heard “Thank you so Much” and a rush from the clerk to let this Mom be on her way. The little girl looked my way and without thinking, I motioned with my hand for her to come back–she came running and her Mom hugged her like it was the first time she had ever seen her child….. As they walked away I told the Mom–“Have a wonderful Thanksgiving” and something told me she would be giving extra prayers of Thanksgiving this year.

    I walked out of the store, my heart smiling at the memory of what had just happened. All I did was SMILE and LOOK…. Thank you Pam for allowing me to share. Blessings for you on this Thanksgiving. martha

    • Martha, I love what you shared here! It is so exactly what I was talking about. So many little encounters like those you describe come our way all the time but they seem so insignificant that they don’t always stay with us. And they can take us out of our own pain or discouragement for that moment, as you describe… just being a noticer and letting someone see a smile of care. I pray for all those you mentioned, that the Lord sends His messengers to them in deeper ways, draws them close, stirs His heart in them and for them in more ways than we know. And the little things that you left them with today were like little seeds… like blowing dandelion seeds out into the air… lifted on the breath of the Holy Spirit to take and use in ways only He knows. And that blessing comes back to you too… bread upon the waters. Thank you for your retelling of this here… I could see it all as I read your touching account. Blessings Martha! One thing I see in you is your compassion reaches from your own place of pain and opens your eyes to those who have their heads down around you… I hope you continue with me on these Ebenezer Wed’s and share your own moments that come to mind each time…

  5. Pam–
    I will keep with you on this “Ebenezer Web’s” –it did feel Good to do something so simple. All I had to do was step away from my Pain for a few seconds. Not always that easy but God helps me in these moments–My Pain level went off the charts after I had sat on a Porch Ledge, and it was too much for my Damaged Sciatic Nerve. I have been in wicked Pain now for over two weeks with no relief in sight…. Thank you for the loving compliment you gave me. I am deeply touched, and those words help me more than I could begin to tell you! Thank you with all my
    heart! martha

  6. Jann Olson says:

    I agree that it’s the little things you do and say to lift others that really matters. The funny thing is that when you put other people before yourself, you are more happy. Everyone needs to know that they are important and just the smallest of compliments can really lift a persons spirits! Thanks for sharing with SYC.
    hugs,
    Jann

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  8. I love this, Pam! Oh, this is my language…and I so appreciate those moments. Oh, they are God’s kisses, gentle on our cheeks, forehead, top of the head. I so love when He allows these grace reminders, small and as abundant as we allow ourselves to be awake, available, really! I will so try, to join in…it is a crazy season, but this one thing: writing- it so keeps me focused on His good gifts in me, in others. So I make the time, as I can, despite the crazy and rejoice with my fellow writers of His graces. So glad I was right after you at Ann’s place!

    • Thank you, Dawn! Thank you for your enthusiastic words! 🙂 I look forward to your thoughts here whenever you have time to join in! I know, writing keeps me focused on His gifts too… been hard not to write much lately myself. I’m glad this is lifting your heart too…

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