Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving - A Lifestyle

Well, the turkey has been carved and eaten and we are stuffed!!  Cranberry sauce, turnip, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, apple pie - no doubt, we over-ate!!  A local radio show announced last week that the average person eats about 4500 calories on Thanksgiving Day!

Are you moving a little slower today?  Looking forward to leftovers?  All "thanked" out?  I hope not.

Thanksgiving needs to be a lifestyle, not just a day to celebrate.

Let's not forget as the world does, that EVERYTHING we have comes from Him.

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."
James 1:17
And we need be always thankful, always mindful of the One who showers us with all blessings.
As we throw out the turkey carcass or use it for soup, let's not stop in counting our blessings.  Let's continue to recognize all that we can be thankful for.
It seems almost sacriligious in a way - one day we are giving thanks and feeling appreciative and the next day - Black Friday - we are shoving our neighbor aside so we can get to the bargain before he does!

Today, instead of fighting the crowds (which I do NOT do, no matter what the bargain!), I am reflecting on family and how much I appreciate mine.  We enjoyed such a good day together yesterday - at Zumba (early morning class with 1 daughter and 2 granddaughters), brunch, making gingerbread houses, visiting my Dad, sharing the BIG meal and then watching Christmas movies!  We laughed until we hurt and ate until we couldn't move!!

It reminds me that the most important things in life are not things, but people.  And they can't be bought, no matter how much money you have and there's no sale or bargain to be found that is sweeter than a special relationship.
My two oldest granddaughters (Charlotte and Maggie) and I spent today making chocolates for Christmas gifts and I wouldn't trade the time I spent with them to save $1000.00!
Now the Thanksgiving meal is just a memory, the mess needs to be cleaned up, and it's time to move on to the next holiday. 
But I will continue to give thanks - for the greatest treasures the Lord gives - my family!! 

Join me in making thanksgiving a lifestyle!!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Give Thanks in All Things

What if you woke up today with only the things that you thanked God for yesterday?

There are many obvious things that we give thanks for -

our family, our friends,
sense of sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste,
our speech, our health, our hands, our legs, our mind,
kind strangers, the sun, moon and stars, rain and snow (well, maybe not as much),
rainbows, oxygen, our church, animals, books, shoes, music,
our bed, our home, laughter, life, our job,
our talent, our gifts, color, a parking space, a bargain, etc; 
the list goes on and on and on and on......

But what about giving thanks for things that we don't commonly think of when we are making up our lists?

Give thanks for:

- Our mistakes - they help us to learn how to say "I'm sorry"; they help us to grow as a person and they teach us how to lean on the Lord.

- Heartbreak - it helps us to mature into a more compassionate person.

- Relational conflict - it reveals our blind spots and the ugliness of our hearts that drives us to God; for only He can change a heart.

- Life's challenges - they help us to grow in the character of God.

- Our tears - they help us express our deepest emotions.

- Our fears - they help drive us to God and teach us to overcome.

- Disappointment - it teaches us to accept ALL as from God's hands, trusting Him.

- Our pain - it helps us become stronger.

As I reflected on this, I heard this song on the radio:
"What if your blessings come through raindrops?
What if your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near?
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?
What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy?
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise?
Yes, indeed, what if?  If we don't accept all as coming from His hands, we could miss the very blessing He wants to pour out!  As we give thanks, let's give thanks for both the ugly and the beautiful; knowing that God transfigures the ugly into the beautiful.

Accepting ALL as from His hands because we don't give thanks based on how we feel but because of who He is!

Happy, Blessed Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Recognizing the Giver

I recently facilitated a 6-wk Bible Study at our church. It was a video series by Ann Voskamp based on her book, One Thousand Gifts.  The study draws our attention to giving thanks in all things, living in the moment of each day, accepting all as gifts from God to us.  The sub-title is "A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are."  It was a life-changing study for me.  Opened my eyes and my spirit to a whole new perspective to life.

During the course of the study, a few of the ladies brought to my attention some articles they found in some secular women's magazines on thanksgiving.  They were fairly good articles regarding our need to cultivate an "attitude of gratitude" and how that can change our perspective.  I think these articles are pretty typical of what you find this time of year; it's definitely a seasonal thing.  Thanksgiving is in November, so naturally our thoughts and attention would be more drawn to giving thanks.

But the thing I noticed about all of these articles is there was no mention of WHO we were expressing that gratitude to!!  If there is no WHO, then for what reason are we giving thanks?  Because it will make us happier people?  Because it changes our perspective?  What is the point in that?  Isn't that ultimately selfish?

The object of giving thanks is not just in being thankful or cultivating a grateful attitude - but it's in acknowledging the Giver of those gifts; the Giver of those very things, people, etc that we are thankful for.  The object of giving thanks is seeing God's hand extended to us in all things and recognizing regardless of whether life is good or hard at any given time, that the Giver - God himself, incarnate in the person of Jesus, is always good and we are always loved.  It is in recognizing that very fact, that we can be thankful regardless of the situation we find ourselves in.

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.
Hebrews 13:8
As we walk through our day, asking God to open our eyes and hearts to see all the gifts He places before us each day, our hearts become filled with His love for us and they ultimately turn back to Him in grateful thanksgiving, acknowledging that love and returning it to him in thanksgiving.  It is HE who is the Giver of ALL things and His desire is for us to turn our hearts to Him, abide in Him, in the midst of ALL - even the hard eucharisteo (thanksgiving).  This deepens our relationship with Him and THAT is the point!  Getting to know Him better, responding to Him, letting Him into our hearts in a deeper, more intimate way.
"O give thanks unto the LORD; for HE is good: for HIS mercy endureth for ever." 
(emphasis mine)
Psalm 136:1
Give Thanks!
Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart!
Give Thanks to the Giver!


Friday, November 22, 2013

Letting Go - Holding On

To trust takes letting go - letting go of our own expectations and letting go of the results we want in any given situation. Letting go of our fears; letting go of control.

Letting Go - to Hold On

In Sunday School this past Sunday, someone made this statement - "To trust in God and to live by faith means we let go of all of our scheming."
Letting Go - of my own desires
Holding On - to God's desires

Lettiing Go - of my frustrations
Holding On - to His peace
Letting Go - of my expectations
Holding On - to God's plans
Letting Go - of me
Holding On - to Him.
"He must increase, but I must decrease."
John 3:30
Opening the hand to release all that I want to hold on to and as I let it go, I find God's hand reaching down to take my empty one so He now can fill it - with all that He has for me.

Have you ever "hatched a scheme?"  To scheme means to plot; to contrive a plan for.  Has there been something you wanted so bad, you were willing to do anything to get it?  And then you made a plan on how you were going to get it?  Disregarding all that stood in your way?
I know I have!
And I am so thankful that God loves me enough not to let me have my own way when He knows that way is dangerous for me - not just physically, but spiritually, too.
"And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul."
Psalm 106:15
Was it worth it?  Is it worth it?
There are any number of frustrations we encounter in our daily lives; I'm dealing with one particular frustration today and as I started to feel my stress level mounting, God spoke softly, hold on to your peace!  Let go of the frustration!  I could feel my whole body relax in that moment.  It's not worth it!  It's not worth losing my peace over something so trivial and temporal.  Thank you, Lord!

To fully trust God, we need to let go of our scheming; let go of our plans, let go of our dreams, let go of our frustrations, let go of all we've pre-conceived in our minds that is the best for us.
To fully trust God, we need to believe that He is in every single little detail of our lives and as we let go, we get to hold on.
What are you holding on to today? 
Let go - Hold on!


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Hard Eucharisteo

The "hard eucharisteo" (thanksgiving) - the ugly-beautiful, as Ann Voskamp calls it.  Giving thanks, even when things are hard or seemingly impossible.  "The hard discipline to give thanks for all things at all times because He is all good.  The hard discipline to number the griefs as grace because as the surgeon would cut open my son's finger to heal him, so God chooses to cut into my ungrateful heart to make me whole." (from One Thousand Gifts)

Giving thanks because I know that God can transfigure or redeem all!  Giving thanks because I know God is all good. 

But what to do until the ugly turns into the beautiful?  What to do until I see God's hand move?

"Wait," says the Lord. "Wait."  And the waiting is so hard. 

I want to see this thing transfigured NOW. 
I want resolution NOW. 
I want reconciliation NOW.

But in the waiting, God is working!  God is working in my heart.  God wastes nothing; least of all, time.  He is always at work.  My heart - again -  needs work!  My heart doesn't want to thank God for this - this can't be His will - - - can it? 

I'm angry, hurt and want to run!  Where, where do I run?  In my head, I know the only safe place is to run to God, but, but, but.....!

"The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe."
Proverbs 18:10

God allows me glimpses of how He can use this.  How He can turn this into the beautiful, but I have to trust.  I can not change another's heart, I can only allow God to deal with mine.  Aaah, but that is the hard part!  I can't trust another's heart.  I can only trust God in them; trust Him to work in their heart as He works in mine.  Trusting is hard.

"Can it be that, that which seems to oppose the will of God actually is used of Him to accomplish the will of God?"  (One Thousand Gifts - Ann Voskamp)

"See that I am God. 
See that I am in everything. 
See that I do everything. 
See that I have never stopped ordering my works, nor ever shall, eternally. 
See that I lead everything on to the conclusion I ordained for it before time began, by the same power, wisdom and love with which I made it. 
How can anything be amiss?" 
(Revelations of Divine Love - Julian of Norwich)

The question - Do I believe God is good?  Do I believe God is always good?  YES, YES, a thousand times YES!  So, I, too, believe God is working in this - this "hard eucharisteo" even when I can't see it.  He will accomplish His purposes in and through it.

Again, I say, YES, I trust you, Lord.  When it seems impossible; when it seems that no good could come from this, when my heart is ugly in it - YES, I trust you!

When the only thing I am sure of is -

God is always good and I am always loved!
that will be enough.  Because God is always enough!
"He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still."
Psalm 107:29

Monday, November 18, 2013

God is Bigger Than the Boogie Man, Part 2

Fear is a funny thing.  Just when we think we might have conquered it, it crops up in the most unexpected places.

My family has been vacationing in Maine for the past 33+ years and I have driven the road back and forth too many times to count.  This past July when I was driving home on Interstate 89, I had an experience I've never had before.  At a certain spot in the road, I had the incredible sensation to - instead of taking the curve - just drive straight through the guard rails to see what would happen!  It's hard to put words to the feeling I had, but I had to literally white-knuckle the steering wheel to make sure I turned it in the right direction.  It left me quite shaky to say the least.  This happened in July.  I was scheduled to go back to Maine in September with friends for vacation.  In thinking about this episode, I consoled myself by the fact that I wouldn't be driving in September so it would be okay. 

Well, as things turned out, I had to drive by myself for the September trip also and as the time grew nearer for me to leave, I became very anxious and fearful about the drive.  I started to become fearful that I would not be able to turn my steering wheel in the direction of the curve when I was presented with that same situation again.  I went to see my pastor a few days before the trip and then enlisted some friends to pray for me.  They all committed to pray for me especially on the day I would be driving home on that particular stretch of highway.

The Lord began to show me how fear could take up residence in my heart again and prevent me from doing one of the things in life that gives me greatest pleasure - vacationing in Maine.  As I sought the Lord and attempted to "figure this out", I became angry at the enemy of my soul and declared- "It's going to take more than this to stop me!  God is on my side and I trust Him!"  I also began to realize that even when I couldn't trust myself to do "the right thing", I could trust God in me to help me and strengthen me.  I went to Maine and had a wonderful vacation. 

I prayed off and on throughout my vacation and on the drive home, I prayed quite a bit and put on my praise tapes and worshipped the Lord.  When I came to that stretch of highway, there was not another car in sight.  I drove in the left hand lane, singing at the top of my lungs and praising God for delivering me - again!

"He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me, because he delighteth in me."
Psalm 18:19

"Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation."
Isaiah 12:2 
Fear is always crouching at the door trying to seduce us away from trusting in our God. We can't trust the situation, we can't always trust other people and we can't always trust our own hearts, but our God is completely trustworthy and can ALWAYS be trusted.
"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."
Proverbs 3:5, 6

"The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in Him."
Nahum 1:7

"Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is."
Jeremiah 17:7
When we lean hard into Him, He does not disappoint.  He is faithful in ALL ways, in ALL things.  
He Can Be Trusted!


Friday, November 15, 2013

God is Bigger Than the Boogie Man

"God is bigger than the boogie man.
He's bigger than Godzilla or the monsters on TV.
God is bigger than the boogie man.
And He's watching out for you and me."
Words to a Veggie Tales song that for some reason was on my mind today.  I found myself reflecting on the so many things we fear at one time or another.  Sometimes our fears are grounded in facts and sometimes they are "mountains made out of molehills." 
I remember when I was younger, my family used to spend our summer vacation at a camp on a lake that had an outdoor bathroom.  That bathroom was always filled with "daddy long-legs" spiders.  Before I would use the bathroom, I would always ask my older brother to go in and kill all the spiders he could see.  Of course, being the understanding older brother that he was, he teased me mercilessly and he used to always say - "You are a thousand times bigger than that spider.  What are you afraid of?"  That, I think, would certainly qualify as an irrational fear.  But when you really fear something, it is not irrational to you.
Today, listening to the news or reading a newspaper can cause us to fear about the state of the world, the state of our health insurance, the state of our money.  We can fear the report we are expecting from the doctor's office, we can fear flying, we can fear a bill that is coming in the mail, we fear the security of our job, we fear man; there are any number of things that we fear - big and small.
But - the song says -
God is BIGGER than the boogie man.  God is BIGGER than your "boogie man".  He is BIGGER than your greatest fear, whatever that may be.
During the early years of my marriage, I had a fear of the dark and being alone at night.  Then my husband got a new job - working third shift - and suddenly I was alone just about every night - 5 months pregnant and with a 3-yr old.  I slept, when I did sleep, with a light on and reciting a Scripture that I had memorized.  God miraculously delivered me from that fear and to this day, I feel secure in Him in that regard.  But shortly after the deliverance, I had opportunity to fear again and my neighbor invited my daughter and I to spend the night with her while my husband was away.  The Lord showed me that if I left my house and went to hers, I would be inviting the enemy to take up residence again.  I had to face my fear, embrace it and let God help me overcome it - again!

When you run from the fear, it will continue to chase you!
If you face the fear and run toward it; with God's help, you will overcome!
"I have pursued mine enemies, and overtaken them:
neither did I turn again till they were consumed."
Psalm 18:37
What is your "boogie man" today?
"The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?"
Psalm 27:1
God is truly BIGGER than your "boogie man" today.  His promise is yeah and Amen!
"Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee."
Deuteronomy 31:6
Face your fear head on.  Ask yourself - what is the worse that could happen?  Will God be there with you?  The answer to that question is always a resounding YES!!!  So, if God be for you, who can be against you?  He has promised He will never leave nor forsake you. 
Refuse to be motivated by fear in any area of your life, but listen to the still, small voice of the Lord and let Him motivate you, let Him lead you in the way He wants you to go.
"Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh.  For the Lord shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken."
Proverbs 3:25, 26
There are a boatload of Scriptures that talk about fear; do a study; ask the Lord to give you a Word to stand on when your fear threatens to overtake you.
Psalm 37 says this:
Fret not....
Trust in the Lord....
Delight thyself also in the Lord....
Commit thy way unto the Lord....
Rest in the Lord...
"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. 
Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord JEHOVAH is everlasting strength."
Isaiah 26:3, 4

Part 1 of 2
Look for Part 2 on Monday, November 18!


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

My Heart, His Habitation

I have a tradition that I have had for many, many years - every December I start praying and asking the Lord to give me a Scripture verse for the coming new year.  The Lord has always been faithful to give me one and as it has turned out, that Scripture becomes something the Lord works out in my heart during that entire year. 

For the year of 2013, the Scripture the Lord gave me was:

"The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation:  he is my God and I will prepare him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt him."
Exodus 15:2
The particular part of the verse that the Lord really zeroed in on was:
"I will prepare him an habitation"
As is usually my custom when I'm working through a verse, I took out my Strong's Concordance and looked up the word habitation.  Here is what I found:
5115 - navah - to rest, as at home; implied idea of beauty (5116); to celebrate (with praises); keep at home
5116 - naveh - at home; hence (by impl. of satisfaction) lovely; a home of God (temple) comely, dwelling (place) pleasant place.
Donna's translation:  "I will prepare Him a beautiful and pleasant place where He will feel at home and be able to rest."
This "place" is my heart.
I began to meditate and ponder on this.  One day, sometime in February, I came home from being out most of the day and as I walked into my apartment, I said to the Lord - "I love this home.  I just love my apartment, Lord, and I am so thankful for it.  I love coming home to this place.  It gives me such delight and peace to be here."  I sensed the Lord speak so clearly to me in saying - "Donna, that is how I want to feel - at home in your heart." 

I began to sense what the Lord wanted to do in me.  He was looking for me to prepare Him that habitation in my heart and to do that, I needed to let Him reveal my heart to me, which is exactly what He has been doing these past months of 2013.  I have written quite a bit about the condition of my heart on this blog and it is because of that very work.
The Lord frequently speaks to me in song and the words of this song became my prayer the first half of 2013:
Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary.
Pure and holy, tried and true
With thanksgiving, I'll be a living
sanctuary for you.
Sanctuary....habitation - a place I want God to inhabit.  I wrote this prayer in my journal - "Lord, reveal my heart and clean house - prepare my heart as a sanctuary for you."
In July, this song became my prayer:
Holy Spirit, thou art welcome in this place.
Holy Spirit, thou art welcome in this place.
Omnipotent Father, of mercy and grace,
Thou art welcome in this place.
"This place" was my heart.
As I look back now over the past year, it all makes sense and it all comes together.  God has been faithfully answering my prayer.  He has brought me closer to Himself and done such a work in my heart, I am in awe with the wonder of it.  He has taught me much about living in the "here and now", about slowing down to see the gifts and blessings he bestows on me daily.  He has taught me how to seek and find Him in all that my day holds.  He has taught me to give thanks in and for all things. This "thanksliving" has changed not only my heart, but my life.  He has wooed me with His gifts, but also with the greatest gift, the gift of Himself. 
There is still much in my heart that needs cleansing and changing but I trust -
"The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth forever: forsake not the works of thine own hands."
Psalm 138:8
O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever."
Psalm 107:1



Monday, November 11, 2013

Capture My Heart, O God!

"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked:  who can know it?"
Jeremiah 17:9
Over the summer, I went through a "dry time" in my relationship with the Lord and this ultimately caused me to cry out to Him and ask Him to change my heart.  Some ungodly thoughts and attitudes  had entered in and I knew I needed a "heart transplant."  Over the last couple of months as I've continued to ask the Lord to change my heart, He has continually shown me just exactly what is in my heart that needs to be changed.  I needed to see these thoughts and attitudes the way God saw them in order to repent and allow the Lord to change me.
Last Friday, a minor thing happened and my response was not at all what I thought it would be.  As I saw it for what it was, the Lord spoke the above scripture from Jeremiah to my heart.  I realized that my heart had deceived me into thinking I would respond to this situation, but when it actually happened, I reacted.  The heart - my heart is deceitful above all things and the first person it deceives is me!  When my eyes are closed to see what is really in my heart, I am deceived and then that leads me to deceive others.  I don't know my heart and can't know my heart unless the Lord first reveals it to me. 
The good news is:  as soon as I had reacted, I did see it.  The Lord was faithful to reveal my heart to me and I could repent and again repeat the prayer - "Lord, change my heart."  It is hard sometimes to continue to say this prayer, because I know God will continue to reveal the wrong attitudes and sinful nature of my heart and I need to be continually prepared to allow Him to do that.  As much as it sometimes hurts, it is good!  God is at work within me and I know that my heart will be changed - by Him.  I can't change my own heart - only God can.  But the good news is - He can and He will when I cry out in earnest to Him.
"The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water:
he turneth it whithersoever he will."
Proverbs 21:1
If He can change the heart of the king, surely He can change mine!
I saw Billy Graham's birthday special last week and something he said really stayed with me.  I can't quote him exactly, but the gist of what he said was - he wasn't worried about the atomic bomb or any other kind of weapon that could be used in our world, but what did worry him was the heart behind the weapon!  Isn't that the truth? 
Because the weapon is only as dangerous as the heart using it! 
How true that is even for us in our daily walk.  Our thoughts and attitudes become weapons that our hearts use against other people!  And we deceive ourselves when we think they don't matter - the attitudes or the people!
I am so thankful today that God loves me enough to correct me, to chastise me when I need it.  And He gives me hope because I know I don't have to be stuck in these attitudes - He gives me a way out.  He will change my heart as I continue to seek Him.
"Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me."
Psalm 51:10
"Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."
Philippians 1:6


Friday, November 8, 2013


"So, when you die, if I get your room, I could use it as a bedroom or we could make an office for Daddy." 
This spoken by my 8-yr old granddaughter, Harriet.

Harriet and her sister, Annie, are twins and they had come upstairs to visit me.  During the course of the visit, they asked if they could try on my shoes.  I was finishing up something on the computer, so I said sure.  I could hear them in my bedroom giggling and oohing over the shoes.  Clomp! Clomp!  They clomped in to show me the shoes they liked the best.  Back into the bedroom, then back to see me. 

"Can we lay on your bed, cause it's so cozy and we just love it?" 

Sure I said.  I could hear them talking, then something caught my ear.  They were having a discussion about who was going to get what when I died!!

They said they wanted my bed because it was so cozy and warm.  Then I heard them move off the bed and they were checking out my jewelry saying, "Oh, I want that" and "I hope she leaves me that."

When I finished up my work, they asked for a snack, so I passed out cheese sticks and the comment about making Daddy an office was made as they sat around the kitchen table.

What is up with that? I thought. 

"Hey, girls, I don't plan on dying for a really long time."
"We know, but you've got really great stuff."

They stayed for awhile after that and we shared some more laughs and then they left for home.

I started thinking about their conversation.  What would my legacy be to them other than my "stuff?" What was really more important for me to leave them?  How did I want them to remember me and what impact would I have had on their lives that they would carry into adulthood?

Food for thought, for sure.  I pray that they will remember me first and foremost as a grandmother who loved them and made time for them.  I pray they will remember that I loved the Lord and tried to live my life as an example of that.  But, do I?

I think of the legacy my husband left.  We talk about him often and one of the things we have discussed and so many people have shared with us, too, is that Phil lived out the written word.  He may not have known how to exegis the Scripture or the Greek and Hebrew words, but He lived the Word.

Lord, please help me to be that kind of example.  Help me to leave that kind of legacy.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Be The Gift!

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."
James 1:17
The Bible Study I am currently involved in has challenged me to be a blessing to others, to be a gift to another.  As God blesses me and daily gives me gifts, I am, in turn, to be a blessing to someone else and to be the gift in the moment that God is choosing to give them.  What a challenge!  To be a blessing and a gift to someone else, instead of a curse or annoyance.  :) 
Did you know that the Jordan River flows downward into two bodies of water - the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea?  Did you know that the Sea of Galilee receives water in the north and it gives from the south as the Jordan continues to flow downward and is fresh and alive with fish?  Did you know that the Dead Sea also receives from the north as the Jordan pours forth, but it does not give?  It only takes!  It has no outlet!  Nothing can live in its waters.  "Two seas fed by the same river.  One gives and lives.  The other holds on and dies."  (from Ann Voskamp - One Thousand Gifts).  I did not know this.  Or, rather, I think I knew the information, but had never really seen it in this light.

What God gives, we cannot hold onto.  If we do, we become stagnant and die.  His gifts are meant to flow to me and then flow through me to another.
I have accepted the challenge of being a gift and a blessing to another and my eyes have been opened - opened to see how and when I can be that gift and blessing.  Letting someone in ahead of me in traffic or in the grocery store.  Really looking into the eyes of another and saying "thank you."  Giving a compliment when I think it; being patient with another; eyes opened as hands are opened - to receive and give. 
I can be that "good and perfect gift" at the time ordained by God in someone's life, just as someone else can be that "good and perfect gift" to me.  What an awesome thought!  I want to be that!  I want to give that "gift", whatever and however God may choose.
Lord, let my eyes first be opened to the gifts and blessings you've poured out to me and then, let my eyes be opened to those who need that same gift and blessing and use me to bless.  As I receive blessing, I can be a blessing!
The last couple of days, I have been excited to see the ways in which God will use me to be a blessing and a gift to others.  It has absolutely filled my heart with joy.  I feel like God and I have a secret.  No one else need know what I see and what I do - as unto the Lord.  I feel an excitement in my heart, like you feel on Christmas morning.
My gift to you? - encouragement to be a gift and blessing to someone.  Ask God to show you ways - big and small - that you can touch someone's life today!  Start small and then think big - opening a door, letting someone in line ahead of you, making a meal for someone who is sick, supporting a missionary, sharing the gift of Jesus with a neighbor, sponsoring a child in a third world country, teaching Sunday School - the gifts you can give are endless! Just open your eyes and He will show you!
Accept the challenge!

Monday, November 4, 2013

What About November? Thanksgiving?

Well, here it is - November 4th.  The temperature outside is a chilly 34 degrees.  The garden has been put to bed and gray November skies have set in.  The pumpkins and the ground were covered with frost this morning and most of the trees have lost their coverings.  My pansies are in mourning and still have not lifted their heads, despite the sun putting in a good showing today.


Halloween is over and for that alone, I am thankful.  The Halloween and fall decorations have been taken down in the stores and now all that means Christmas in the retail world has been set out.  Christmas carols are being played in the stores already.  The Hallmark channel has started their annual Christmas Movie Marathon.  And, truth be known, I enjoy those "sappy" movies, but I'm left wondering - what about November?  What about Thanksgiving?  I am very excited to celebrate Christmas.  I love everything about the holiday, but still I think - wait a minute - we need to celebrate Thanksgiving first! 

Why has this holiday been "shoved aside"?  Is it just because of commercialism or is there something deeper here?  Thanksgiving - giving thanks - have we lost the ability to do that in the culture we live in?  Giving thanks requires a humble heart - a heart that can see and acknowledge that something or someone other than our own hands provided what we needed.  In a country where everything Christian is under assault and where we "do it my way", have we lost the ability to say thanks?  Are we not able to acknowledge a God from "whom ALL blessings flow?"  Are we not able to recognize that to Him alone belongs the thanks and praise for all the blessings we enjoy?  Thanksgiving day seems to be just a quick stop for turkey and football, instead of an acknowledgement that God our Savior has blessed us abundantly.

"Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Ephesians 5:20

I, for one, will not take down my Thanksgiving decorations until after Thanksgiving (although I must confess I have watched some Christmas movies!).  I will keep them up as a reminder that I am not in control of my life, that there is one who is greater, there is one who is infinitely loving and gracious, one who blesses me beyond measure and for that, I am thankful, so thankful.  I will keep them up to remind me daily (because, yes, I do forget) to give thanks to my God who so abundantly provides, not just material things, but all things that my soul needs to prosper.
"O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: fior his mercy endureth for ever."
Psalm 136:1