Friday, October 22, 2010

Give Us Grateful Hearts for Common Graces


"Give us grateful hearts, our Father, for all Thy mercies, and make us mindful of the needs of others, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

Dear friends,

Two little stories behind this prayer for me today, starting with the most recent!



This morning, I especially looked forward to my twice weekly walk with my dear friend Tonya, whom I have known for over 25 years. I always enjoy our walks since we get a chance to talk for about an hour as we go. We have so many common interests, such as home schooling, blogging, nature photography, literature, music and mentoring. (Check out her wonderful blog here: Mrs. T.'s Thoughts from a Titus 2 Mom.) But this morning was extra special because it's her birthday!  I had a card by Mary Engelbreit, Tonya's favorite artist.  The William Mather quote on the front is so appropriate: "Friends, books, cheerful heart and conscience clear are the choice companions we have here."  Tonya is such a choice companion!  For a birthday present, I gave her a small bag of a dozen Hershey's Bliss dark chocolates and chocolates with raspberry filling. I knew Tonya wouldn't want to carry chocolate around for an hour, so I hurried along past our usual meeting place toward her house so she could leave it home. We usually take a different route each time we walk, and since we were already down in her direction, we kept walking that way. A few blocks past her house, we noticed a sign for a yard sale. She immediately said, "Oh, I know the lady who is doing that, and she always has great stuff!" So off we went! So many pretty things there! One of them was a picture (with the aforementioned prayer on it) that I'm going to hang in my dining room…







I think the picture is pretty enough, but the real reason I bought it has more to do with my heritage and my own faith. You see, I can hear my Grandpa and Grandma Hess reciting this prayer as "grace" at family meals all during my growing up years when we would visit them at their homestead in rural Pennsylvania or later on in Florida, where they retired. I love this grace and often say it at home with my children. Beyond the mere tradition, the words themselves have the power to redirect my thoughts to the merciful God who made me and provides so bountifully for me. It also reminds me to think about other people, and the mercies I can then extend to them in the name of Jesus.


When I brought the picture home, I noticed the inscription at the bottom that this wee grace is from the Book of Common Prayer. I hadn't known that. My husband has an 1845 copy which was given to his late father decades ago by an Father Andrew, an Episcopal priest and dear family friend. I gingerly paged through it looking for this grace, but couldn't find it. I know it is in the 1928 version, though. You can find that on-line here: Book of Common Prayer.  
I love old books and treasures, as well as newly made pretty things in vintage styles. So I was also delighted this morning to find a small tapestry covered foot stool at the yard sale. I love to read to my children for an hour or so each morning, but always need to prop my feet on something as I sit on our couch. So this was perfect, especially since it's decorative, too.  I did have to scrub it down with some upholstery cleaner to give it fresh grace for daily service.

Also at this sale, I found some books and CDs and some small lacy table covers -- one for the round end table we inherited from Thad's parents, and the other, a narrow runner, for the table in our front hallway.  The Proverbs calligraphy book and Shalom Jerusalem music CD (by Paul Wilbur) are for my son-in-law Ryan' who worships as a messianic Jew along with my daughter Mary.  (He just turned 30, this is an extra birthday present for him.)  It's funny that just the other day, I was listening to a Paul Wilbur CD that Ryan had given to me for Christmas. Walking on the arc machine at the YMCA after an already long morning, I feebly tried to muster up enough energy to go a mile, but thanks to the wonderful uplifting and energetic messianic praise music, I ended up "going the extra mile" (and then some) for a total of 2.5 miles. Music can do that! Remembering God's strength can do that! I want to pass on a heritage of heartfelt praise and thanksgiving to my children and grandchildren.

One of the books I found this morning is Lover of My Soul by Alan D. Wright.  I don't know much to say about it yet since I haven't read it, but the subtitle, "Delighting in God's Passionate Love" is enticing.  I always need to be reminded of that!




Yesterday I went to a big clearance sale at my favorite used bookstore and started collecting books for my grandson Jacob. He won't be able to understand them for a while yet, but that's all right! I picked out two of our favorites, One Wintry Night by Ruth Bell Graham (a Christmas book that starts with the story of creation and waltzes through the Old Testament on the way to the nativity) and James Herriot's Treasury for Children (stories from a British country veterinarian). The third book I found for him is Thank You Hashem, a Jewish children's alphabet book of simple praises to God. I think his Daddy will like that!

What's up for the rest of this day? The younger kids and I are on a "week off" from home schooling right now. I need to clean and organize the dining room, and then hang my new picture in there. This afternoon, I'm picking up Lydia from school and then coming home to fix her 16th birthday dinner. The menu: a Mexican recipe of beef stuffed with onions and cheese and topped with chili pepper sauce, fresh sauteed green beans, homemade wheat bread, chocolate chip cookies, and Jello. And we'll be sure to say our traditional grace, "Give us grateful hearts our Father…."


I am grateful for God's mercies in the form of good friends, a rich family legacy to pass to my own children and grandchildren, birthday celebrations, and beautiful, inspirational, and nostalgic yard sale finds that remind me of all of his gifts, his common graces to those he loves.

Grace to you,
Virginia Knowles
http://www.virginiaknowles.blogspot.com/

Related posts:

Morning Walk  (a bit of beauty from my walks with Tonya)
A Tribute to My Grandfather, Henry Hess
My Favorite Christmas Books
Savta and Bris for Baby Jacob


3 comments:

  1. Thanks for the sweet comments, Virginia. You are a treasure to know.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I should add, if it is not already clear, that the green beans, bread, cookies, and Jello do not go on top of the beef. Only the chili pepper sauce does! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you for sharing this, Virginia!

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