This week I'm writing my Weekend Gratitude in advance, looking ahead to what I think awaits me in the next two days.
First of all, it is my son Micah's 12th birthday tomorrow. I'm so glad to be his mom. He is a really friendly and funny kid, and a delight to be around. Micah teaches me a lot because he is always curious and loves to learn, especially about nature. He takes beautiful pictures of birds, insects, and flowers, and expertly cares for the dozens of fish in our aquariums.
So it was no surprise that the only thing Micah wanted me to buy for his birthday was a gerbil with its cage and food. We didn't want to wait until tomorrow, so we went to PetSmart today to pick one out. Our local store was plum out of gerbils, though, so we had to drive another five miles to one that had two white gerbils left. Without further adieu, meet Whiskers, our little girl gerbil! Micah just told me that she ate some sunflower seeds from his hand.
We always let the kids choose what they want for each of their birthday meals. Micah wants eggs, bacon, sausage, and biscuits for breakfast, then sub sandwiches with spicy chili Dorito chips and lemonade for lunch, and then he's going to make pizza (from scratch) for dinner, with brownies and chocolate for dessert. It's going to be a yummy and fattening day. I get hungry even thinking about it. He is eagerly anticipating going to Walmart with me in a little bit to buy all of the ingredients.
On Sunday, we're having lunch with the Walti family, Rachel's and Joanna's hosts in Chiavari, Italy, for three months this year. (See www.AbbondanzaDiVita.blogspot.com for lovely photos and fascinating stories!) The Waltis are flying back to Italy this week after a month in the states, so we're getting together with them and two other families tomorrow afternoon. It's an Italian potluck, so we're making a big pan of lasagna ahead of time. I'll have to figure out a way to keep it warm while we're at church, because we're not coming home in between. I am grateful for our lifetime friendship with Lee and Jeannette and their five kids.
We had planned to go to Lake Baldwin for fireworks on Sunday evening, but my daughter Julia said her fiance Alex has offered to bring over some small fireworks to set off in front of our house instead. We had a blast (literally) with that last year, and it will be a lot less complicated than trying to find a place to park and then getting out of a traffic jam afterwards with a bunch of tired kids on the van. Of course, this holiday is not just about patriotic red, white, and blue and fireworks. It is about the fact that over two centuries ago and even now, men and women have willingly sacrificed their own lives and fortunes so that we in America could enjoy liberty and justice for all. I'm thankful for that! (See
A Tour Through Liberty.) Later note: On Monday, I took the kids down to the Orlando Science Center for their members-only Fourth of July festivities. We could see the downtown Orlando fireworks over Lake Eola from a sixth story terrace a couple of miles away, and they had all sorts of cool shows and exhibits for the kids. We had a blast!)
That's what's coming up this weekend, and I'm grateful even in the anticipation of it. As I thought about that this morning, I realize there is much more to anticipate with gratitude. Most vitally, as a believer in Jesus, I look forward expectantly to the day when I will see him face to face, and all of the sorrow and confusion and pain of life will melt away. This world, with all of its gifts of family, friends, fun, food, and pets -- it is all no match for what is to come. It boggles the mind to ponder an eternity in Heaven in the presence of God, and being changed into someone who is no longer held back by either physical and spiritual weakness. That is a wonder of his grace! (See Grace Will Lead Me Home.) And a feast, such a feast! The wedding feast of the Lamb!
"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." Romans 8:18
"Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." 1 John 3:2
"Then the angel said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’” And he added, “These are the true words of God.” Revelation 19:9
Or, as West Coast Revival sings, "Oh to see you, Jesus, I can hardly wait to behold the One I love! Oh to see you, Jesus, know your sweet embrace. My heart is yours, for you I long.”
P.S. I can't resist showing you a picture of the finches they had at the pet store today. As we wait for what we need and want, let us remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 6 about how God cares for us even more than the birds:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 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? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?