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Posts Tagged ‘Gratitude’

It was deep dark in my hotel room, and cold.  The only light came from outside my window – intermittent flashes of eerie green accompanied by an odd popping sound.  I picked up the phone to call the front desk, but the line was dead.  I tried to see what time it was, but the clock was dead, too.  Ah.  No power.

I groped through the unfamiliar surroundings to find my watch.  Thanks to the occasional flash of green light from outside, I could see the time.  3:00 a.m.

Shivering in the dark, I sat by the window and watched as power lines snapped under the weight of a thick layer of ice.  A tree branch fell with a crack, a thud, and a muffled tinkling sound like some plastic chandelier crashing to the ground. 

I had been hired by the local orchestra to sing the soprano solos in Handel’s Messiah.  They did their best to accommodate the singers, but the monstrous ice storm left eighty per cent of the city with no power.     

On my third day there, the day of our first performance, enough of the city had power that a hotel became available – with heat, water and light.  When I set my suitcase down in my new room, I just about cried for joy.  (I’m pretty sure an angel chorus was singing the “Hallelujah” chorus on my behalf.)   

No more sleeping in my coat, hat and gloves!  No more frigid showers!  No more dark, unfamiliar hallways!  No more meals from the only gas station in town with power!

I have never been as aware of the comforts of everyday life in America as those few days when I didn’t have them.

Isn’t that just so human?  I mean, isn’t it so typical for us to take it all for granted?  There are so many blessings heaped on us that we have become numb to them.

Most of us in this country get to choose what shoes we’ll wear today.  We don’t have to travel any farther than our kitchen sink for clean water.  Many of us would like to shed a few extra pounds because we have more than enough to eat.  But we are used to those things…

Every now and then, I catch myself taking it all for granted.  And I pray, “God, let me not grow numb to the blessings!”

This Thanksgiving, I pray this for you, too. 

I pray that you have eyes to see your many blessings.  I pray that you remain sensitive to each gift-wrapped moment given you by God.  I pray that your blessings are too numerous to count and too wonderful to ignore.

And when you find yourself in that frame of mind, I pray that you will bless others – not because you’re supposed to, but because you will burst with gratitude if you don’t.

Happy Thanksgiving!

“I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.”  (Ps. 69:30, NIV)

 

New on the Family page today: a song to teach your kids how to count quarters.

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I cast a despondent gaze over the little piles of laundry lining the hallway.  (Sigh.)  I have faced those same, boring little piles every Monday of my married life.  The size, shape and quantity of the clothing have changed over the years.   The task itself has not. 

I was just about to complain to myself about having to do the dang laundry for the umpteenth time when a piece of scripture popped into my head.  (Scripture has a way of doing that.)

 

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  (Colossians 3:17, NIV, emphasis mine)

 

Hm.  I had to mull that one a bit. 

Whatever I do…

Whatever I do…

Wait a minute.  Whatever I do?  Does this mean to say that I’m supposed to do laundry for Jesus?  That can’t be right.  I do laundry so that we can have clean clothes and so that we don’t stink.  I do laundry for my family.  I do laundry because I have to and I’m stuck with it and if I didn’t do it, my children would wear the same clothes until the clothes could wear them and because maybe, just maybe somebody, someday will APPRECIATE ALL THE HARD WORK I DO!

Whoa.  Time for a gut check.

What would happen if I did do the laundry (and everything else) for Jesus?  Well.  My perspective might change a wee bit.  Didn’t he wash their feet?  Didn’t he come to serve, not to be served?  Doesn’t the King of Heaven wash my dirty laundry when I confess it to him?

Yes.  Whatever I do, I must do for him.  And why? 

Because if I do it for myself, it is too easy to stop. 

Because if I do it for the recognition of people, I will be disappointed.

Because everything I am able to do, I am able to do because of him.

Yes, I will do the laundry for Jesus… and swish the toilets, and grow the children, and love the husband, and teach the students, and write the blogs, and whatever else he wants me to do.  Thanks be to God that I can!

Now, if you will excuse me, I have to put the sheets in the dryer… with a smile on my face. 🙂

laundryforJesus

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Last week, our family was supposed to have been enjoying a vacation in Orlando, FL.  It was to have been a refreshing getaway for spring break.  But, alas, that was not to be.

Our older daughter contracted a significant illness which kept her out of school for almost two weeks and required many doctor visits.  Since the penalties for cancelling our trip would have been steep, we decided that I would stay home with her while my husband took our younger daughter to Florida. 

If you are thinking that my older daughter was jealous, that her mother was stressed, that her father felt guilty for leaving and that her sister bounced between compassion and excitement, you would be correct.

It was at this point that each member of my family faced a choice.  We could let the circumstances devastate us, or we could choose to be thankful.

I know what you’re thinking.  “Thankful?  How could you be thankful?  Resigned maybe, or martyrish, but thankful?  Come on.”

I have heard of people of great faith thanking God in horrendous situations, and I have regarded them with incredulity.   I thought maybe they were faking.  Or maybe they were putting on a show of piety.  Or maybe they possessed way more faith than I would see in my lifetime.

But then it happened to me.

And it happened to my daughter.

We chose gratitude.

To keep our spirits up, we named everything we could think of to be thankful for about that particular situation.  We thanked God for clean hair when she finally got to shampoo after a week.  We thanked Him for Chinese take-out.  We thanked Him for inside jokes that made us laugh and briefly forget about pain.  We thanked Him for wise, compassionate doctors and nurses.  We thanked Him for medicine, and Mr. Brown letting her skate on all the history homework she missed, and the friends who stopped by with cards and gifts, and new sweat pants, and a host of others things that you might find odd.

God did not take away the circumstances.  Instead, He provided us with grateful hearts. 

It wasn’t that my daughter and I are women of faith for the ages.  It was that God is good. 

There are now two more humans who looked on an ugly circumstance, and with sincere gratitude, whispered to Him, “Yet will I praise you, O God.”

 

“For what you have done I will always praise you…. And I will hope in your name, for your name is good.”  (Psalm 52:9, NIV)

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I saw a quote on a church marquis this week that has stuck with me.  It read, “Thanksgiving is good.  Thanks-living is better.”  True words.  Am I thankful?  Yes.  Am I living my thankfulness?  Well, I’m going to have to examine that one.

Here is my take on Thanks-living:

Thanksgiving is being mindful of your blessings.  Thanks-living is being mindful of the needs of others.

 

Thanksgiving is thanking God for your bountiful blessings.  Thanks-living is sharing your bounty with others.

 

Thanksgiving is naming your blessings.  Thanks-living is naming the Giver.

 

Tomorrow, as you enjoy time with family and friends, as you name your blessings one by one, as you reflect on lessons learned and wisdom gained, may you discover more ways to live out your gratitude in response to God, whose love and goodness never end.

Happy Thanks-living!

“Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!”  (1 Chronicles 16:34, ESV)

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One word in the English language makes me cringe whenever I hear it.  It is usually spoken with a smidge of nasality and a hint of defiance.  Just the utterance of this word causes the speaker’s face to harden and their jaw to set.  It is a verbal way to stomp one’s foot.

I heard this word from a cashier once.  She asked if I wanted to apply for a store credit card.  When I declined, she proudly announced that she would be getting one soon.  After all, she reasoned, she had been working hard and deserved to buy some things on credit.  By that, she was saying that she deserved to have things she could not afford.

What a dangerous little word “deserve” is.

I, too, have been ensnared by the use of it, and badly at that.  For example, when I was single for longer than I thought I should be, I actually bought a diamond cocktail ring on credit to occupy my finger!  No joke.  Since I had been waiting, and no suitable husband had appeared yet, I thought I “deserved” to have a diamond ring.  (Thank goodness a suitable husband did come along – one who is financially savvy and who educated me about what a stupid move that was.)

“Deserve” is sneaky.  It makes company executives believe that they are entitled to multi-million dollar bonuses that their companies cannot afford.  It causes people to leave marriages because they “deserve better.”  It seems to justify our selfish desires.  But rather than sounding justified, we sound spoiled.

Every good thing is a gift – all because the one who deserved to sit next to God in heaven, instead chose to hang out with losers and criminals on earth.  He deserved to have every comfort, but instead chose the lash.  He deserved life, but chose death for our sake.

He got what I deserve.

Because of this, I cannot say that I deserve anything at all.  Instead, I am learning to say, “I would love to have a piece of chocolate,” or “It would be great to have a vacation,” or “I’m so fortunate to have this or that.”  I want my words to reflect a posture of gratitude rather than one of entitlement.

Please…enjoy your dessert, your new car, or your time off – not because you deserve it, but because it is a gift.

 

“…he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.”  (Psalm 103:10, NIV)

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