And Be Thankful…

(I’ve been staying with my mom for a couple weeks. She is recovering from a nasty bout of pneumonia. This morning we were having a conversation about worry, control, and acceptance of the new normal. After our talk, I found this piece in my to be finished file. The message seems timely…hope it is for you, too.)

Have you ever considered what it must have been like to be Adam and Eve? How perfect their life was. How every one of their needs was met before they could ask. How they had no questions, because there was no need. How every day they walked with God—they were completely in his presence.

How cunning of the Tempter to challenge their naïveté, their simple way of life.

He challenged them on the only front he could: their desire for more, their sense of entitlement. And they bit and bought his deception, and that introduced the problem of dissatisfaction to the whole human race.

We are entering the season of the year when we focus not only on being thankful, but a time when we contemplate the giving of the greatest gift—God himself coming as a baby—born that man no more may die.

Recently, I spent some time in my Sunday message addressing how meekness is not weakness. I suggested the definition: Meekness is therefore an active and deliberate acceptance of undesirable circumstances that are wisely seen by the individual as only part of a larger picture. 

I think Paul must have understood this. 

To the Corinthian church he wrote: Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Cor. 12:8-10, NLT).

Eugene Peterson in The Message gives us this paraphrase of the same passage: I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.

Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. Now I could see Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Because of this shift in thinking, I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get—the less control I try to muster, the stronger I become.

To the Colossians Paul also wrote: And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father (Colossians 3:15-17, NLT).

And to the Thessalonians, in his final advice section, he pens: Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NLT).

James got it too: Dear brothers and sisters,[a] when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing (James 1:2-4, NLT).

Our strength comes from being grateful that God is in control. We can rely on him. The recognition of our inability to control things is where our weakness meets up with God’s strength.

This is where I find confidence to declare with Paul, that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

It’s not a matter of “doing” everything. 

I can’t do everything, or every thing.

But I can face what ever comes my way.

Because he promises in all things we are—or can be—more than conquerors.

So when the tempter slithers up beside and tries to convince you that you don’t have enough, or the best, or less than someone else—call him what he is: a big fat liar.

The LORD, he is your shepherd…and you have everything you need…

…and be grateful.

Borrowing from Tomorrow

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:34, ESV)

I recently read this thought and it reminded me of today’s verse: If you fill your heart with regrets, of yesterday and the worries of tomorrow, you have no today to be thankful for.

But I liked this one better: Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength- carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.

My mom always counselled me to “neither a borrower or lender be.” I know that’s meant to be a statement about money, but it fits this verse as well.

If we worry about what tomorrow might hold we borrow or bring those troubles into today, and we lend our strength and peace to the one who doesn’t deserve it…the enemy of our souls.

SO instead, let’s live today. Be in today. Find the good in today. Praise and thank God for the gift of this day. It is after all the day which he made…and gave to us.

PRAYER: God of the present. Help us today today to live each moment, accepting them as gifts from you. Amen.

Attitude of Grattitude

At my house Thanksgiving and football go together. This morning my husband called me into the family room so I could watch this piece on Sports Center.

I could go on and on about this story and why it’s so special to me…but I invite you to hear it with your heart. Then pause and give thanks for what you have.

But before you rush from this into your celebrations, however big or small, check your attitude of gratitude. Take a look at what you think you “can’t” do. Then be sure you’re doing all you can. Here’s Jake Olsen’s story:

Blessings to you this day of Thank-full-ness.

Day 23 Leftover Thanks

Today you will not find me lining the coffers of any greedy retailer. The other day Nelson asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I had no answer for him. Now that’s not to say I there aren’t things I would like to have (convertible laptop tablet and hazelnut coffee), but there isn’t anything I need. I’m hoping to get some Barnes and Noble gift cards so I can feed my hungry little Nook Tablet. But I don’t need any clothes and because of my ecsema I quit buying my favorite yummies from Bath and Body.

One of my favorite things for this day is leftovers. I love leftover turke–white meat only. The sweet potato and green bean casseroles always seem better the second day and beyond. And since we ate at home there will be lots to enjoy.

So today I am thankful for the bounty and the blessings. Yum!

Day 21 Squiggly Thanks

Today I had to chuckle at myself. I was working and trying to get some writing done on my book before my little lady was up and about. At one point I was trying to figure out how to spell a word. The reason I was having trouble, I quickly discovered, was that I was pronouncing it wrong and therefore spelling it wrong. A couple other words were just not looking right. Several times I would stare at the screen, sure that I had spelled the word correctly, but the tell-tale red squiggly line remained.

Part of what made me chuckle was a conversation I had with the RHWC the other day. He is in first grade and wanting to spell everything. He gets very frustrated with our crazy language because no matter how many rules you know, there is always an exception. For example, the giggle you emit when you hear a joke (clue: laughter). Now spell the word that represents a female offspring (clue daughter). The RHWC knows that if you change the first letter on Hat to P, you get Pat. If laughter is pronounced “lafter” then shouldn’t daughter be “dafter”?

So today, I am thankful for little red squiggly lines that appear while I’m writing to keep me from looking and spelling like my first grade grandson. On him, it’s cute–on me: not so much.

Happy spelling. 🙂

Day 19 Mema’s Gratitude

I pick the red-headed-wonder-child up from school on Mondays. Here was a our conversation in the car on the way to my house:
Mema: Hi Buddy.
RHWC: Hi Mema. How’s was your day?
M: It was good, Buddy, how about yours?
RHWC: It was excelentamundo.
M: Wow, that sounds like a special kind of day.
We talked then about some of the more challenging stuff he’s learning–he loves the challenge. Then we talked about Pilgrims and Indians and Math. Then he said:
RHWC: Mema, I hope you live for at least fifty more years.
M: That’s a lot of years, Buddy.
RHWC: Yeah, I know. But I want you around forever.
M: Thanks, Buddy. I hope I have a lot of years, but however many I have–each day is a treasure when I’m with you.
RHWC: For me too, Mema.

My heart just needed that dose of love.

Day 17: Wormy Thanks

No, this is not about fishing. My thanks today is completely related to books.

Hi, my name is Tina and I’m a book a holic. For the last 5yrs I have arranged my work schedule around this sale, which happens 4 times a year. Today I bought 13 hardbacks and 9 paperbacks and spent $15.75. My favorite find was a 2vol. Tyndale Word Study NT and Concordance. I have wanted a set of these for-ehhhh-ver. When I spotted them on the bottom shelf, in the back corner of the last room, I let out a squeal of delight. My daughter was on the other side of the room and she said she heard me.

When I was a pastor, I was very intentional about growing my library. When I transitioned from the senior pastorate to chaplaincy I sold off a big chunk because we needed the money. When I left ministry and counseling I sold a large part of my library and then again a few years later I weeded through my collection again. I’ve made a habbit in recent years to either donate books back to the library or to my church library. It’s a good thing to do and makes room for new additions. 🙂

So this little bookworm is thankful for books today. And happy too.

Day 12 Tenacious Life-shaping Thankfulnes

Day 12
I sat down to type this on my Nook Tablet, and I noticed that my phone was about to die so I had to stop and pull out my charger and attach it to the extension cord plugged into the power strip. As I walked back to the table I got a notification that one of my friends had just played in one of our Words With Friends games, which was followed by a notification that I just got a text from my daughter.

I sat back down at the table and smiled. While it may look like today’s thankatuity is for technology, which I am grateful for, sitting here I am awash in thanks that God wired us to be curious and creative and tenacious.

In a former job, I taught a class which had as its premise that there is genius in each of us. Now that’s not to say that we can expect to be budding Edisons or Einsteins, Jordans or Gretzkys, Jobs or Gates, but in your sphere of influence you are the expert on you. And God says he put you right where he wants you to make the difference and impact that only you can make.

So how will you change and shape your world for good and God?

Day 8: Thankyouverymuch

Funny thing happened on the way to the blog post…I sat at my computer, hands on keyboard, fingers primed to type out my thoughts, and…I suddenly was overwhemed with gratitude. The very thought of pick one thing to be thankful for this morning seemed utterly absurd. There was litterally a flood of things that came to mind. So just awash in the awareness of how blessed my life is. And to top it off…I was awakened over an hour early by the dogs needing an emergency potty run. That might have set the course of my day into a downward spiral, but instead I have been most productive: in housework, administrative necessities, and writing. I’m really quite into it and don’t want to stop, but I have an appointment to get my teeth cleaned (another not favorite thing in my life, and yet I find myself grateful even for this).

Here are a pics that make me smile…just things that came to mind this morning…things I am thankful for:

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<img src="All in Bibs” alt=”” />

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<img src="Saying Goodbye” alt=”” />

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And with that, I’m off to the dentist and to get my replacement driver’s lisence. TTFN

Today is my older grandson’s birthday. He turns 7 today. He lives with our former son-in-law. We don’t get to see him as much as the others, but we treasure him as much as we do the rest. Ever since our granddaughter was born, I have referred to these kiddos as the grandsweeties. The sweetness that these precious children have added to our lives is immeasurable.

So our granddaughter, P, will be 9 in a few weeks. And A turns 7 in January. I often said that if I had known how special grands were I would have had more children. Then I began to feel like the only way we would get more is through grafting. And I was right. Older daughter is engaged and with a new SIL we will graft little K into the fold. She will turn 7 in January, too. Younger daughter has recently started dating a man who has two little girls, so maybe we’ll be blessed with even a few more!

As precious as these wee ones are to me, they mean that much more to my husband. When it came time to plan his 50th birthday, I asked if he wanted a party. He said yes and smiled. He wanted and had his party at Chuck E. Cheese, or as we fondly call it: The house of Mouse. When the guy who signed us in asked whose birthday it was we all pointed at Pepa. The guy was a little surprised, but Pepa wore the birthday badge quite proudly.

Pepa must have a thing for mice because when it came time to plan our 30th anniversary, he informed me that our big day would be celebrated the following year with daughters and grandsweeties at the Big Mouse House in Orland. And we did.

So today, I am abundantly thankful for the sweetness our grandchildren have brought into our lives and for the joys that are to come!