Monthly Archives: November 2013

THANKSGIVING vs THANKS-LIVING

I have loved the thankful posts everyday by so many on Facebook.  It has been a great month, which likely end either tomorrow or the end of the month.  I have seen people who have been grateful this month that complain every other day.  I have seen people who continue to be negative and post nothing about being grateful; therefore, they are hidden from my news feed.  It makes it harder when they are good friends and even harder for me when they are Christians.

  • Every day God gives new mercies (Lamentations 3:23).  Every day I am alive I get a fresh start.  But some days it takes extra for me to leave the baggage behind.  I have the magnet on the refrigerator reminding me NEW MERCIES!
  • Enter his gates with Thanksgiving, enter His courts with praise (Psalm 100:4) – I do not see anything about whining and complaining.  This year I have had 3 people close to me going through cancer.  They may have mentioned some of their symptoms, but everyday they continued to praise God.  So even when health is not good, we can be thankful to be alive!
  • Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.…(I Thessalonians 5:16-18)   I think this would be a great tattoo.  I think if I am always rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks, I can’t be judging, whining, and worrying.

Mary hates the word, but it is so true – it is all about choice in this lifetime.  God gave us free will to choose.  I can choose to praise Him despite the circumstances or curse Him because of the circumstances.  I can choose to focus on Him (who can solve all problems) or focus on the problem (which will never solve itself).   God knows when things are tough, and guess what He is already standing right in the middle of that problem.  The issue is I am so busy trying to take care of it myself, that I can’t see Him.  Some situations that are tough for many right now:

  • Loosing a parent or loved one  –  I can focus on how tough it is, all my questions why taken so soon, and sadness  or choose to: rejoice I had them in my life, the memories I had with them, knowing they are in Heaven and don’t want to come back, and they want ME to be happy and living life!
  • Health issues – I can focus on how it impacts my day, makes me feel, etc.. or choose to: focus on being alive, doing what I can do to make a difference.  My mom was a model of this – despite her declining health she did what she could for herself and others. Eventually being able to do NOTHING for herself (including feeding herself, etc.) she still was an amazing listener and was still thankful – she still used her ears and mouth the only things that didn’t require movement.  She would get mad and frustrated, but NEVER stopped praising God.  Oh what a legacy…
  • Autism – I have mentioned before I could question why God gave us a child with Autism or I can choose (which I do every day) to focus on what an amazing blessing he is to us.  How blessed we are to be chosen to have him.  Do I worry some days about his future? Do I cry? YEP, but then I choose to look at what a miracle he is and totally change the focus from the problem to the blessing.  I have recently agreed to help for The Lucas Fund (please check it out at https://www.facebook.com/thelucasfund). I love it because it was started by parents with a child with Autism who wanted to help others walking the same road.  They could have focused on the “oh why me” but instead focused on what can I do to help others – they changed it to a blessing!

The other day this was part of my thankful list  – let me set the stage.. I had worked really hard to get the living room cleaned up and vacuumed before going into work the night before.  I came home to no evidence of ever cleaning.  I slept in a little later than I had planned.  Our children are night owls like me so mornings are not always great.  We had several appointments and places to be.  Sam was slow getting up and the dog was driving me crazy until he did.   Jim called me first thing that morning needing something (keep in mind the poor guy had cereal once again for supper the night before without a complaint!)  A friend was having a rough day and really needed some strength, and it put into perspective my little complaints.  Mary was taking extra long to get ready.  Things were definitely not as I planned.  I could have posted “there are days I am not sure why I even get out of bed.  My kids are driving me crazy.  No one appreciates how hard I work etc… “ and started screaming.    Instead I drank a cup of tea in my cup with my reminder to live today with passion… talked to a friend on the phone (because me rushing them would have only made things worse), and posted the following in the morning (which rarely happens – but this day I needed to count blessings and not burdens… an attitude of gratitude not grumbling…)  By posting the positive it switched my mindset for the entire day.  I focused on the goodness of God and not the craziness of life.

  • 1. a living room floor full of toys leaving no evidence of the vacuuming one yesterday means I have an imaginative little boy (that we were told we would never have) –
    2. a dog who is so excited when “his boy” awakens and heads down the stairs – not sure who is happier to see who
    3. a beautiful daughter who cares what she looks like before she walks out of the home
    4. children who are like their momma – night owls… makes afternoons so much easier
    5. a hot cup of tea in my favorite mug EVER that makes me think of my friend who replaced the first one that fell and broke
    6. my mugs message – LIVE TODAY WITH PASSION – great reminder every day!
    7. a prayer request from a friend and her reminder on her egg carton – This is the day the Lord has made let us rejoice and be glad in it (p.s. I noticed that on one of cartons too!)
    8. talking to a BFF – not just a text
    9. hearing my husband’s voice on the phone this morning first thing this morning – didn’t get to talk to him yesterday
    10. a fresh start – a new serving of mercies!!!

I focused on the blessings of the day, reminded myself of the promise for a fresh start, and counted blessings.

Where I put my eyes to focus (on God or my burden) will change that moment, that hour, that day, that week, that month.  My children see thankfulness lived out loud.  It changes our crazy chaotic life that could swallow me whole some days into a series of blessings that God blessings me richly every day.   It changes Thanksgiving to being one day a year (or a month on Facebook) to intentional THANKS LIVING (or a life of living thanks!)

Computer Error Messages and life….

Two messages I seem to get from my computer – No network connections and Not Responding.  How true to life these phrases can become.   Of note, these drive me crazy.  I don’t want to slow down and these phrases result in my speed going from high speed to stop.

The same thing happens in life it seems, I loose network connections.  For instance:

  • I loose contact with friends over time because the connection becomes weak.  I think of my childhood BFF and how we had drifted apart over the years.  It wasn’t that I didn’t miss her, but the connection had gone.  She had moved away and I remained in our hometown.  Her life led her down different pathways and mine kept me here.  However, life events brought us back together and our connection is strong.  We text at least a few times a week and feel like we have picked up where the connection became weak.  I am so grateful for the technology network connection of Facebook and texting that got us back here.
  • I also loose connections with friends and family close by.  Life gets so busy and the hours get filled with things.  My calendar has multiple appointments. I already deplete myself of sleep to squeeze more things in.   Last week it worked out to go out with a couple friends to celebrate a birthday.  It had been over a year, and probably closer to two.  Our conversation and laughter was non-stop.  Did I get any further behind in the day because of the celebration?  Likely not, and even if I had, the reconnection of the friendship network gave me a renewed energy.   As the holiday season quickly approaches may I find more network connections and strengthen them.
  • I also loose my network connection with God at times.  It takes planning and effort to maintain any relationship.  I know, from experience, one-sided friendships really don’t work.  Being the friend is always seeking out the communication and connections can get weary.  The same goes for God.   He hands me the world, but at times I get so wrapped up in the world and everything I want that I miss what is right before me.  Some would say the relationship must be maintained on Sundays in church.  And though, being with my church family does my heart good, it is not the deepness I need.  To me that’s like dating once a week.  It’s like dating and marriage – the more you go out / the longer I am married the more I know my husband.  I know it needs to be a daily event, and well though I speak to God daily, there are times it is honestly shoved between other things I need to get done.  Maybe it’s a short prayer (not that He won’t hear them), or a quick praise (not that He won’t appreciate that).  But, I can’t expect to spend little time with Him and learning about Him and expect to develop the deepness in a relationship.
  • Some of my strongest network connections with God are while driving in the car.  Sometimes it is the perfect song that comes on and I just sing to the top of my lungs (Sam is not in there to tell me to stop).  But often, I intentionally shut the radio off and just spill it, like He is physically sitting next to me.  However, I know that my network connection strength can vary daily with Him.  I have to be the one to take the next step.  I love to listen to the ElevationChurch (Steve Furtick)  podcast and listen several times a week.  When I get to read or have my Kindle read to me, it is a Christian Author, just so I can fill my mind with positive thoughts.  I also have gotten much better about Prayer with FaceBook because I love to lift people up.  They may not come out and say they need a prayer, but I know in my gut they do.  It is one moment in time to lift that person up to a God who already knows their need.

My network connection is definitely a continual work in progress, and I am thankful I serve a God who loves me because of who HE is, not because of what I do.

The other annoying computer issue is “Not Responding”.  When I pull up a computer page and it says it is not responding I want to scream (and Sam does especially if Netflix or YouTube – lol).  There are several other times:

  • I can tell you in every day life, it drives me crazy when I send out an email, a phone call, a text, etc and I do not get a response.  I of course analyze it and feel sometimes disrespected, less important, etc.
  • I have children and a husband, and one thing that can drive me crazy is to yell there name (when they know I am fixing supper) and to get no response or a response of what.  They are NOT responding, or at least not how I want them to.
  • I mentioned earlier that I often reconnect in the car.  Lately, I have been doing a lot of outside work preparing the yard for winter.  Normally, I plug in a podcast or some music and reconnect my network.  However, the last few times I have found myself brewing over some things.  Rewinding them in my mind and hitting the repeat button.  During this time, I have been talking out loud and I am sure God is listening intently.  He is likely expecting my praises and prayers and all He gets is my moaning and groaning.  I am NOT responding the way He wants me to, and He already knows He is NOT responding the way I want Him to (after all, I have some great solutions if He would just listen – LOL).   Of course, the more I brew and hit the rewind button, the more I spew.  It rolls over to my husband in some of our deeper conversation.  What happens, he does NOT respond to my issues (or at least not how I want him to – remember I am the one with the solution – lol).
  • Occasionally (often), our dog does NOT respond the way I want her to.  I can yell and scream at the top of my voice and it may not even touch her reaction.

God, I am sure, sits on His throne, and yells at the top of His voice, and I don’t respond the way He wants me to.  I get so wrapped up in my ways, my visions, my thoughts that I warp them to being “God’s will”.  I have heard people say that such and such is God’s will for their life, and I think to myself “they need a hearing aid”.  From my view point, they are not correct.  However, in Isaiah 55:8-9 it reminds me that His thoughts are NOT my thoughts.   I think of men of the Bible like Jonah, who didn’t initially respond to God’s instructions – he got swallowed by a fish – and in the end did exactly what he was suppose to do initially  had he just responded.  Oh, so many days I am like Jonah, running, instead of just responding.   As irritating as it is when I encounter NOT responding by others, I can only the magnitude that Christ feels everyday.

So maybe the next time I see the No Network Connection and Not Responding on my computer, it can be a self check for my life, my relationship with others, and mostly my relationship with Christ.

TWO WORDS… life changing…

Just in case you are curious, my original blog was about judgment and how guilty I am about it.  After I read my blog, I knew it would cause a slew of comments in agreement / disagreement and well, my goal in life is to avoid arguments.  I truly pick my battles and they are usually for my family.  I really need to save my energy for those types of battles.

But, I also believe that many think I have a perfect life because everyday I am thankful.  My journey began when I read the book 1000 gifts by Ann VosKamp.  There are times her book is a little “thick” on a deepness that I just don’t have.  I also had a hard time when I read it understanding how she could be thankful for hard things like watching her boys fight (I thought she was from another planet).  But now, I understand how she looked at the tough times as a blessings, but only after counting the blessings every day.  But, overall she made me think about the little things of everyday.  And I started writing them and then decided to share them on Facebook with the hopes that they would make people pause and think of their blessings.  I have been recording about 10 a day for over a year so about 3,650 blessings.  When I focus on my the blessing deposits into my life it is bound to change my life.  Mary also enjoys reading them and when a parent can make daily positive deposits in their lives, it is priceless!!

There are days my blessings are harder to find, but they are always there.  It is just how I choose to look at life.  It is my favorite word CHOICE (ask Mary as it is a constant recording in her head).   It is taking the moment out of the crazy day that God has blessed me with to COUNT BLESSINGS – I guess it is like the old hymn – Count your blessings, name them one by one, count your many blessings see what God has done.   The other thing about counting them is seeing what HE has done, not what I am waiting for him to do.  It is being thankful for what I have without expectation for more.  I guess my list could be a prayer of praise, instead of my typical “wish list” that I often present Him (not that He doesn’t want to hear that list too).

Anyway, this weekend as we were getting on the elevator at the hotel and something happened that I am still thinking about (and could still almost cry).  Jim was wearing a fireman jacket and the lady on the elevator in the most sincere of voice said “Thank you for your service”.   An honest attitude of gratitude for a complete stranger, but she took the time to say it.  Jim never thinks twice about the sacrifice, even though it is usually as a volunteer.   That moment meant so much to me.  The power of a simple thank you  – it took a moment but touched a life (mine)!

There are days that blessings are a little harder to post but that is because I haven’t looked for ways I can say a simple thank you. Everyday, I could list the same 10 – my God, Jim, Mary, Sam, parents, siblings/wives, friends, house, health, and jobs (and I could go on).  So, if I am struggling it isn’t because they are not there, it is because I am not looking.  The harder days are the days that I CHOOSE to focus on burdens and not blessings.

I get amazed at the number of “Christians” who continually post negative thoughts. I will have my moments, because I am human.  But I am called to be the light to the world (Matthew 5:16a).  If I am the only person that a person would read that day, I pray that it is a heart of THANKSGIVING to GOD despite the external events in my life.  I want it to be a candle burning bright, not cold ashes.

I CHOOSE to live in the “THANKFUL I AM ALIVE” instead of “poor me”.  If I ever need a reminder how great life is, chances are I can scroll down just a few people on FaceBook and find someone going through so much more.  Or I can turn on the news. Or work in the hospital.  I have seen a lot of people going through a lot of stuff (big stuff like cancer), who can still get on FaceBook and praise God!   I am instructed to praise continually DESPITE my circumstances. Hebrews 13:15 “Let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God.”

Two simple words – THANK YOU is even enough because God already knows all the thoughts that follow.

I listened to a sermon by Steve Furtick of Elevation Church entitled “How to Love the Mud”  http://elevationchurch.org/sermons/how-to-love-the-mud  He opened it on how we can focus of the messes of our children as a negative or how the mud in our cars and homes means we have children to love and be involved in their lives.   He carries the theme across scriptures and how something dirty like mud can even be a blessing and a miracle.

It’s a choice… a blessing or a burden – I could focus on

  • My husband is gone a lot in training OR THANKFUL he is willing to serve.
  • Our daughter thinks differently than I do OR THANKFUL that she is prepared with her beliefs and stands strong to them.
  • Our son has Autism and has daily struggles OR THANKFUL that we have a son who has taught us more lessons about living than can be counted.
  • Our children make messes in our home OR THANKFUL that we have children when we were told we never would be able to.
  • Not having my mom on earth with me OR THANKFUL that she implanted strong values in me and I will see her again in heaven.
  • Our house is small and often crazy OR THANKFUL that we have a roof over our heads.
  • I don’t have enough hours in a day OR THANKFUL for the time He gives me daily.
  • Our finances are not where I want them to be OR THANKFUL we have good jobs to meet our needs.

I know there are areas I need to work on in the gratitude area to God – more in actions than in empty words.  He knows everyone one of the areas.  I have poured them out to Him, but slow to release them to His control – thankful He understands.  .  But the beautiful thing is He is patient when I move slowly.

God already knows what is on my heart.  But just like the lady in the elevator who took that brief moment to say THANK YOU to my husband.  Is it really too much for ME to say to my Heavenly Father daily?  On the days I don’t have words… maybe my only post will be THANK YOU- He will know the rest.

So for another year, I hope to shine on.  If I am having an “off day” and my light is growing dim, I am so thankful for the “friends” who take that moment to lift me up – give me oxygen to my flame.  And for the days I am dim, the Heavenly Father who mounts me on the wings of eagle.

p.s. THANK YOU to those who take the time to read