Friday, February 28, 2014

Giving Thanks When You Really Don't Feel Like It

If we're honest with each other, sometimes giving thanks is the last thing we feel like.  Life is hard and it seems like we've become a target for the enemy.  We feel like we're having more than our fair share of stuff.  Well, that's where our family has been for the last few weeks.  Frankly, life has been a great big bag of the "mully grubs".  We've been faced with one sickness after another.  Transitions with jobs and schedules have been difficult to put it mildly.  We've missed family like never before as I've tried to figure out how to get 3 children everywhere they need to be and haven't had my mom or dad or mother-in-law or father-in-law just a phone call away to help out.  It's been TOUGH!

As I was thinking about this during the last 24 hours, I was reminded of the need to sometimes just make a choice, a choice to rejoice about something.  In 1 Thessalonians (v. 16-18), the author (Paul) instructs his readers to "Always be joyful.  Never stop praying.  Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus."  Well, that's pretty clear.  So, today I'm going to be intentional with my thanksgiving.  I'm going to stop for just a minute and reflect on some things I'm thankful for in the midst of what seems like a battle that's up to my eyeballs.  I'm going to remind myself that even in the darkest of nights there is joy and peace that is only found in communion with my God.  I'm going to remind myself that while I am NOT thankful for these circumstances I will choose to be thankful in the middle of my circumstances.  He's my God.  I'm His kid. He is bigger.  He is enough and for that I will choose joy and choose to be thankful.

#343  I am thankful for a weekend spent with my parents.  I am thankful for games of Bananagrams, lunch together at the Cheesecake Factory, a Daddy who insists on fixing something every time he's here, and a mom who makes us macaroni 'n cheese.

#344  I am thankful for a hubby who works hard.  He will do whatever it takes to earn an income for his family and then come home exhausted and spent and still keeps giving so that we can keep life going.

#345  I am thankful for medicines like benadryl, steroids, and epipins that save lives when serious allergic reactions are involved.

#346  I am thankful for Krispy Kreme doughnut runs with my 12 year old at the end of a long tiring day when you just need a little pick me up.

#347  I am thankful for a phone call from a nice lady who offers to take you for a medical appointment just so you don't have to go alone.

#348  I am thankful for a friend who watches over your children when you are at that medical appointment.

#349  I am thankful for conversations about Disney World and Heaven and a child who gets the fact that Disney World doesn't hold a candle to what Heaven is like.

#350  I am thankful for the blessing of seeing my daughter run and play and score 3 goals during a soccer game, enjoying the fun of it all.

#351  I am thankful for lunch with a group of ladies who are choosing to do life together all around God's Word.

#352  I am thankful for a little guy who looks at me and calls me momma and makes me laugh and wants to be held and likes to read a book and thinks I'm funny.

#353  I am thankful for hope that whatever you face is only a season.  I am thankful that there is a reason for every season and God doesn't waste anything on us.

Today I'm choosing joy and thanks. I hope you will too.  I think it lifts a little of the burden that we carry. Blessings to you my friend!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

What's Your Perspective? What Report Are You Giving?

Our perspective really is everything.  Many times in life we will be looking at the same situation as others, and all of us will have a choice to make, "What will we do with this?"  Our perspective and our attitude about the situation will determine how we proceed.

Take Joshua and Caleb for example.  They were the only two of the twelve spies who actually entered the Promised Land.  Why?  They all saw the same scenario.  They all observed the same situation. They saw the enemy.  They all visually perceived the exact same men.  However, they did not come back and report the same thing.  Joshua and Caleb had a different attitude.  They were not seeing through their own inabilities, their enemy's size or power, or . . .  They were seeing through eyes of faith--recalling the power of God that had parted the Red Sea, provided in the Wilderness, delivered them again and again from what seemed like hopeless situations.  They had a right focus.  They chose to look up.  Somehow I think they had chosen to live joyfully.  They had chosen to recall all that the God of Israel had done for them, and as a result they were able to believe all that He was going to do. Spend some time yourself and read that little story in Numbers 13 and 14.  I think you'll be reminded of how important it is to examine your perspective, think about the report your giving to others.  Are you taking some time every day to report something good?  God is up to some good things.  Simply reminding yourself of the "grace" in your life will most certainly propel you to believe Him for whatever opportunities He calls you into just around the corner.    

#328  I'm thankful that we can trust God for open and closed doors.  This time I'm thankful for an open door for my brother and that He has seen God fulfill one of the desires of his heart.  This week he learned that he would be head coach of the football team where he's been coaching as defensive coordinator.  I'm so excited for him.  I'm thankful that God takes care of the details of our lives and that He puts us right where we need to be.  I'm thankful that God gives each of us unique opportunities to impact lives for the Kingdom.

#329  I'm thankful for breakfast time with my little man.  I'm thankful for the welcome he gives me in the mornings when I go get him out of bed and then the special time that follows when I give him his bottle and feed him his oatmeal.  I'm thankful for the special hugs and kisses he gives out early in the morning and the way he enjoys "talking" to me and listening to the things I have to say to him too.

#330  I'm thankful for the little things I see my oldest daughter learning and doing that show me she's growing into a mature young lady.  I'm thankful that she's embracing the person God has created her to be and finding her way through this journey of life.  I'm thankful she's finding joy in learning to cook and clean and do laundry.  Those mundane tasks won't always be "joyful" but I'm thankful that she's learning those tasks and and finding that those are necessary to a productive and enjoyable life.  I'm thankful when she just does little things for me because she knows my likes and dislikes and wants to say "Mom, I love you and want you to know I care."  She is a treasure to me.

#331  I'm thankful for the passion and energy with which my youngest daughter pursues everything she does in life.  I'm thankful she's excited about experiencing new things and meeting new people.  I'm thankful that she loves people and loves this life God's given her.

#332  I'm thankful for access to running water, electricity, refrigerators, heat, a stove/oven, microwave, washer/dryer. . .   I'm thankful for all of these conveniences that I often take for granted.  I'm thankful for a hot shower in the morning and for water that is clean to drink and bathe in.  I'm thankful for a refrigerator full of food and a stove/oven to cook on.  I'm thankful for laundry facilities in my home and a hubby who helps me stay on top of all of it.

#333  I'm thankful for laughter.  I am thankful that I get to laugh everyday.  Rarely does a day go by that I don't laugh.  Actually, I can't remember the last day that went by that I didn't laugh many times during that day.  Laughter really is good medicine.  It's good for your heart and soul and mind.  It helps produce hope and positive energy.  It really breaks down walls and helps put things in right perspective.  I'm thankful for those in my life that produce laughter.  I'm thankful for memories that produce laughter again and again.  I don't ever won't to take life so seriously that I can't enjoy a good laugh.

#334  I'm thankful for my friend Kelly L.  We met when we were freshmen in college at Trevecca.  She and I were in the honors program together.  It was a small group of students who spent a large part of our day together since it replaced the majority of our general ed hours our freshman and sophomore years.  We also were both elementary ed majors.  She stretched me.  She made me think, and she still does.  She was proper and well spoken.  She had a "northern accent", and I was as southern as they came.  She was the theater type and me not so much.  All those years ago and a lot of miles between us, and I still count her as one of my dearest friends.  God knew I would need her again and again.  We've shared so many concerns and struggles via long phone conversations.  We've only seen each other a few times since 1997 but I don't think it's hindered my love for her any at all.  I cherish her more everyday.  I thank God for her and the impact she continues to make on my life as she teaches me to believe God for something bigger.  She helped me through my adoption journey.  She helped us as we believed God for the opened and closed doors into ministry.  She helps me often as I just need to vent about everyday stuff.  She is a treasure to me.  I'm thankful for her.  I'm thankful that she calls me with prayer concerns too.  It is a trust that I feel blessed with.

#335  I'm thankful for God's patience and long-suffering.  I was reminded this week during Bible study with my Tuesday morning women's group to think about how patient and long-suffering God is with me.  He truly has been and continues to be.  I can think of so many times He has called me, spoken to me, shown me things, and it has taken me time to respond.  I've negotiated.  I've asked Him for clarification.  I've tried to formulate a better way.  He has been more than patient with me.  He has truly been long-suffering with me.  God is more than good.  His love for me is OVERWHELMING!  I am thankful!

#336  I am thankful for my hubby and the simple ways he serves us.  He leaves a towel and wash cloth for me in the morning when he's already left for work.  I go to get in the shower after he's been gone for a while and there I find my towel and wash cloth.  I smile thinking of that simple act of love and service.  I go to the kitchen and find a simple note taped to the refrigerator that tells us that he loves us and hopes we have a good day.  He comes home in the afternoon and greets us with hugs and kisses and immediately jumps back in to helping me with dinner and taking care of diapers and household chores.  I am thankful for him.  I am thankful to be on this journey with him.

#337  I am thankful for time spent with a group of young moms last Monday at a science museum.  It was so refreshing to just engage with them and their young children and get to know them a little better.  I am thankful for how God is working in making connections and putting together lives that need to be together.  

#338  I am thankful for Saturday night dinner with a group of people who are becoming more than just acquaintances.  A few months ago, we didn't even know these people and now they are becoming friends to us.  We are sharing life.  I'm thankful.

#339  I am thankful for every time God gives me the opportunity to pray with someone, to share His love and hope and peace.  I am thankful when He opens the door to speak His truth into the midst of the stuff of people's lives.  I am thankful when He allows us to me a part of what He's already doing right here where we are.

#340  I am thankful for my dad and how he cares about the day to day stuff of my life and what we do each and every day.  I am thankful that he's not just being nosy but that he's really concerned and wants to just get a glimpse of what life is really like for us.  I'm thankful that he loves me that much.

#341  I am thankful for my kids' Sunday school teachers.  I am thankful for Mrs. Mary Belle and Mrs. Brenda, Mrs. Tara and Mrs. Carole, and Mrs. Alice, Mr. Gordon, and Mrs. Debbie.  They pour themselves into my children each week, making the stories of the Bible be more than just a story but making it relevant to life.  They point them to Jesus.  They are the second voices in my kids' lives that Jason and I pray for.  I'm thankful for them.

#342  I am thankful for the joy of the Lord.  It truly is my strength.  I am thankful that no matter what we face, God can fill our life with deep joy.  Nothing can take that away.  I am thankful!!!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Pressing on to 1000

It's been such a long time since I've written a "thankful post" that it would be easy to say "just forget it".  But, I refuse to do that.  I set out over a year ago to record my thoughts of gratitude until I recorded 1000 thoughts of thankfulness.  This all started for me in response to reading Ann Voskamp's book  One Thousand Gifts.  The book challenges the reader to view life through the lens of grace.  As I reflect on that concept, I realize it's all grace.

Every good and perfect gift comes from above, and since I'm simply not good enough, can't do enough, and will never be able to measure up enough, it's ALL grace.  Every breath is grace.  Every person who crosses my path and breathes life into my existence is grace.  Every moment that leaves me speechless and unable to formulate a way to express the nearness of God is grace.  Every laugh, hug, reassuring word, tender word of hope is grace.  Every moment spent with a friend who just lets me cry or spill over with words of frustration, confusion, hurt, desperation, . . . is grace.  Every moment that the Father sends a rainbow in the sky is grace.  Every text that comes at just the right time, every card, every invite to lunch, every voice mail of encouragement is grace.  Every snowflake, raindrop, ray of sunshine is grace that speaks of my Creator God.  Grace compels me to gratitude.

#315  I am thankful for the deep belly laugh of my 14 month old son.  I'm thankful that it reminds me that laughter is good for your soul.

#316  I am thankful for how my girls find such delight in each other's presence.  I am thankful that God created them uniquely and yet they compliment each other so well.

#317  I am thankful for a new job for Jason, new opportunities.  I am thankful for his servant leadership in our home and how he is a man who loves well and longs to grow as a man of God.

#318  I am thankful for the women God places in my life.  As I think about all the different ladies that have been or are presently a part of my journey, I am overwhelmed with how good God is to me.  He is so faithful to put people in our lives for the unique seasons of our journey.  He knows who we need and who needs us.  The women in my life encourage me, challenge me, and inspire me to be a better me.  I am thankful for those who point me to Jesus.

#319  I am thankful for my friend Christina E.  I am thankful for her authenticity and transparency and for how well she has loved me the last few years.  She has accepted me just as I am with no pretensions or hidden expectations.  I am thankful that she is real and is comfortable in her own skin.

#320  I am thankful for my mom and dad and how well they love.  I am thankful for what this is teaching me about loving others well even when it means sacrifice.  I know our move is painful and sacrificial to them, and yet they are supportive and encouraging to us.  They are excited about our journey.  I am thankful for that.

#321  I am thankful for Kim and Barry B.  They have taught us what deep and abiding friendship looks like.  Friends are sometimes very present in our lives in a physical kind of way.  At other times, life means our physical presence isn't so much a reality.  Kim and Barry B. have demonstrated to us that what makes true friendship stands the test of time.  I am thankful for their love for us, their support of our journey, and more than anything their commitment to pray us through.

#322  I am thankful for my friend Lana.  Our words are life or death.  Some people speak faith, others speak doubt. Lana is one who supports me with words of life not death, words of faith not doubt.  She speaks God's TRUTH into my heart.  I am thankful for her faith and her discerning spirit and how she pours her life into others.

#323  I am thankful for the journey of adoption and everything it has and is continuing to teach us.  I am thankful God allowed us this amazing opportunity.  I am thankful God chose us to be C-man's mommy and daddy.  I am thankful that He knew every detail of the story and is writing a story of redemption and restoration and grace and mercy and love that is bigger than any of us.

#324  I am thankful for new friends who open their hearts and homes to you.  I am thankful that He gives us people to share life with.

#325  I am thankful for Skype and Facetime and the opportunity to stay connected across the miles.

#326  I am thankful for Central Church and the welcome they have given us.  I am thankful for the amazing opportunity it is to serve with them and to be used to build the Kingdom here.  I am thankful for the blessing it is to serve Christ.  It is still overwhelming to me to see this whole story unfold and to see how God is doing something BIGGER THAN US.

#327  I am thankful for you.  If you are reading this post, then you are someone to me.  You have impacted my life in someway.  I am thankful that God doesn't waste encounters.  No matter how we know each other, it's not by chance.  I pray that my life will in some way impact yours for the better and that it will matter for eternity.  Blessings, friend!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Choices, Choices!

There are so many choices in life.  Daily we make choices.  It starts from the time my feet hit the floor in the morning.  Some choices have become so routine that we really don't even consider them a choice anymore.  We've made our choice a habit.  We've decided what we like best, and we're sticking to it.  We like our coffee with creamer and only a certain flavor.  My hubby doesn't stray far to the left or right when it comes to his morning breakfast routine.  No, it's maple with brown sugar oatmeal for him every morning.  It's a familiar smell in our kitchen.  He's the kind of guy for whom breakfast is a must.  Me, on the other hand, I'd prefer to wait to about eleven or maybe even noon to think about that.

We think about what we'll wear, what will be for lunch and dinner later, what appointments we'll schedule for the day, who will drop off and pick up, what are the "musts" for the day and the things that can wait until tomorrow or maybe even next week.  We choose whose phone calls we'll take and which ones we'll let the voice mail catch.  We choose whether we'll take the time to read God's Word or spend a few extra minutes of quiet time praying and asking Him what His thoughts are about our day's situations.  We choose what we'll do in those 30 extra minutes that show up in the early afternoon between one scheduled event and the next.  We choose whether or not we'll make the phone call that's been nagging us for days.  We choose whether we'll go out of our way to speak to the person on the other side of the room who looks overwhelmed and disconcerted, bothered, and in need of a little hope. We choose whether or not we are overcome with worry and stress or focused on the One who is BIG ENOUGH to handle any of life's circumstances.

We choose by our simple actions and words, again and again, sometimes moment by moment, breath by breath.  We choose to say I will serve.  I will allow Him to be All that He is and ALL that He wants to be.  We choose to say as for me and my house we will simply serve the Lord.  We will serve Him with the little that we have, with our brokenness, with our messes and our frailties.  We will serve Him with ALL that we are because He is ALL THAT WE NEED.  We make many choices everyday.  We make what seem like small insignificant choices.  We make some choices that seem huge and life altering.  Many days we make choices that we're not even consciously aware of and yet simply by our actions, words, deeds, we are choosing.  Let's choose together.  Let's choose to make the only choice that really matters.  Let's choose to SERVE with our life.  Let's choose to live in a way that whatever we do, we do it ALL FOR THE GLORY OF THE LORD.

"whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." 1 Cor. 10:31