Tag Archives: giving thanks

Problem or Blessing?

Standard

As I’ve been thinking about blessings this month, I’ve started to realize that feeling blessed has a lot to do with our perspective.  In other words, how do we think about things?  I’ve also learned a new phrase recently, “first world problem.”  Here’s the definition:  a minor frustration or irritation experienced by privileged people in rich countries.  Friends, think about it, most of our problems, all those things we get angry and worried about are really exactly this.  To much of the world, we’re whining about things that are pretty inconsequential.  Wouldn’t it be better when encountered with a “first world problem” to remind ourselves how really blessed we are?

Here are a few problems I encountered this week while on vacation visiting my daughter in South Carolina:

We arrived at our condo to find that due to a leak upstairs, our washer and dryer were not working!  I had to go to my daughter’s home about 20 minutes away to wash my clothes! (First world problem — how blessed am I to own a vacation home and an automatic washer and dryer in the first place!  How blessed am I to have plenty of clothing for goodness sake!  How blessed am I to have children who will help me out!)

We decided to meet our daughter for lunch at a favorite restaurant only to find out that it had closed!  What a disappointment!  We love their crab soup!  (First world problem– all we had to do was select another restaurant, there are many choices.  Aren’t we blessed to have a choice of foods and be able to afford to eat out at all?)

Here’s a good one:  our apartment in South Carolina does not have Wi-Fi.  We’re so used to this convenience, it’s annoying to be unable to look something up on google or check my email instantly (or write a blog post as soon as inspiration strikes).  Instead we had to make a trip to the library to use the computer. (First world problem!  Aren’t we incredibly blessed to have a library where we can not only use our computer — which we are blessed to own– but borrow books and movies at no cost.)

Well, you get the idea.  I don’t have to worry about having food for my next meal, shelter from the weather, or transportation.  I have resources to share.  I’m not alone in the world, I have family and friends around me.  Most of all, I have the church and the gospel. God has provided me with all that I need and more.  From now on, when I’m tempted to complain about one of those “first world problems” I’m going to count my blessings instead.  What about you?

 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life” (Matt 6:25-27)?

 

Advertisements

“Hello – It Is Not Christmas Yet”

Standard

Okay, so I admit I am a little perturbed at all the Christmas stuff going on.  I can not even turn on the radio without hearing Christmas music.  First off, I am not a grinch, I just wish the true season of Advent would get its just attention.

The Advent season is important too, it is the time we Christians are suppose to be in prayer and study for the arrival of Jesus.  But as we are typical, we do not want to wait, we want it now, so we put up the tree, turn on the music and shop til we drop.

I ask all to remember that this season is NOT about the tree, lights, decorations, presents or even the feasts planned – Advent is our time of anticipation, desire to see and joy at the upcoming arrival of our Lord.  DO NOT rush this season – savor with anticipation the coming – look forward with joy to His words – and sincerely appreciate the best gift ever given which was His life for our sins,

DO NOT RUSH

SAVOR
ANTICIPATE

APPRECIATE

Enjoy the Advent season more thoroughly and you may find that Christmas is all the more precious.

 

God Loves You And So Do I

 

Michele

Happy Thanksgiving!

Standard

Today is the day that we all sit down with family and eat and eat and eat.  While we’re doing that I have a few things that I’d like all of us to think about.  Part of this month’s theme has gluttony in it.  Gluttony is usually associated with food, but let’s take it to the next level.

Thanksgiving is all about being thankful for what we have.  Gluttony is the opposite of that.  Webster defines is as “greedy or excessive indulgence”.  So why talk about this on Thanksgiving?  We, as a people, need to learn to be thankful for what we have and be content.  The marketing companies in this country are always about having more, or better.  We find ourselves wanting more.

I’ve been there.  We were pretty poor, on Food Stamps and Assistance.  One year the local church came with a box of food, a turkey with all the trimmings.  Needless to say, I cried, and I felt so humble.  Here I was feeling bitter because we couldn’t afford the whole meal and the Lord stepped in and had these wonderful people bring it to me.  Yes, I was very thankful that year.

But I still wanted more out of life.  I wanted the house, the car, the job…  all the things that this world tells us we must have.  Didn’t matter that we had a roof over our heads, food to eat and a vehicle to drive.  I wanted better.  I won’t go into how the Lord brought me to where I am today, but let’s just say that life has never been easy for me.

Through all these years I’ve learned to be content.  Content with what I have, which is more than what many others have.  I have a wonderful family, a roof over my head, food to eat and a loving church family.  What more could I want?

Come To The Table

Standard

I have recently been hearing this song on the radio and it strikes a chord deep inside – Remember He came for the sick and sinful – of which I am one. So come join me at His table I look forward to seeing you there.

“Come To The Table”

We all start on the outside
The outside looking in
This is where grace begins
We were hungry, we were thirsty
With nothing left to give
Oh the shape that we were in
Just when all hope seemed lost
Love opened the door for us

He said come to the table
Come join the sinners who have been redeemed
Take your place beside the Savior
Sit down and be set free
Come to the table

Come meet this motley crew of misfits
These liars and these thiefs
There’s no one unwelcome here
So that sin and shame that you brought with you
You can leave it at the door
Let mercy draw you near

Come to the table
Come join the sinners who have been redeemed
Take your place beside the Savior
Sit down and be set free
Come to the table
Come to the table

To the thief and to the doubter
To the hero and the coward
To the prisoner and the soldier
To the young and to the older
All who hunger, all who thirst
All the last and all the first
All the paupers and the princes
All who fail you’ve been forgiven
All who dream and all who suffer
All who loved and lost another
All the chained and all the free
All who follow, all who lead
Anyone who’s been let down
All the lost you have been found
All who have been labeled right or wrong
To everyone who hears this song

Ooh
Come to the table
Come join the sinners you have been redeemed
Take your place beside the Savior
Sit down and be set free
Oooh
Sit down and be set free
Come to the table
Come to the table
Just sit down and rest a while
Just sit down and rest a while
Come to the table

Credit for song to Sidewalk Prophets

Making the Most of Time

Standard

If you read through Chapter 5 of Ephesians, you’ll get some advice about spending time.

  1. Be imitators of God;  walk in love and sacrifice yourself for others
  2. Stay away from immorality of all kinds (this includes silly talk, covetousness ,impurity and drunkenness, not just the “big” sins)
  3. Give thanks to God for everything. Praise Him with music.
  4. Don’t be deceived by false teaching, or associate with those who are.  Look to Christ for the truth about things
  5. Be filled with the Holy Spirit

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of the time because the days are evil.  Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”  Ephesians 5:15

If we’ve studied the Bible, learned from Christian teachers and pastors, we really have no excuse for wasting our time.  We know what it is to serve God;  we know certain things are His will, and others are clearly not.  Often we just choose to do something else. Often we tell ourselves, everyone does it, it can’t be so bad. We think there will be plenty of time to repent and  make things right with God.  Sadly this is not always the case.  And the further we walk away from God, the harder it is to come back.

The best advice for spending time?  You hear it every Sunday at the end of the service:

Go in peace, serve the Lord! 

If you do this, you can be part of God’s redemption story.  What better way to use your time?

 

Remembering Old Friends

Standard

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”  Proverbs 27:17

I was recently looking some old file folders with information I kept about Via de Cristo.  It reminded me of many of the people with whom I served on retreat teams, met in small groups, planned activities and served the Lord.  Many of these folks were part of my church family.  It was a busy and productive season of my life.  Now I go to another church, where my husband is the Pastor.  I’m still in touch with some of those friends, but others have moved or just moved on.  Life changes.

However, thinking about them reminds me of how influential our friends are in encouraging us in our Christian walk.  Being in an accountability group (Via de Cristo calls them reunion groups) makes it harder to procrastinate or slack off in our spiritual disciplines.  Having a close group of friends to help you when you have an idea you’d like to try (like this blog) is encouraging, too.  There are so many things I’ve done that I would never have dared try without my friends.  There are so many insights I would have missed without them there to notice and tell me.  My friends gave me confidence;  they prayed for me;  they loved me and supported me even when I messed up. They were God’s gift to me.

So today I am remembering and give thanks for all my friends, old and new:  for the things they have to teach me and the many ways they help me in my Christian journey.  Don’t be a lone ranger Christian.  Take friends with you wherever you walk.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.  For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow;  but woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up.  Again, if two lie together, they are warm;  how can one be warm alone?  And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him.  A threefold cord is not quickly broken.”  Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

 

What is Via De Cristo?

Standard

I just came back from serving on a weekend with the ladies & gentlemen of the Vineyard Via de Cristo movement and was asked to write something about my experience. What should I write? It is a lot harder than you would think because there are so many things that go into a weekend and contribute to the experience that is shared by all.

But what I can tell you without any hesitation is what it is not. It is not a cult – we do not try to change your beliefs, initiate you into some kind of weird teachings, or brainwash you. It is not a weekend of rest, relaxation, maincures and pedicures.

It is a 72 hour immersion into the word of the Lord. There is a lot of singing (I managed to lose my voice this weekend, much to the delight of my fellow weekenders), food, talks on tools that can help strengthen your walk, tears, laughter, clapping and the list goes on.

Whenever, either my husband or I participate in a weekend, we always ask each other – What did you bring home from your experience? This time I told him that I needed to show the world more of God’s love in the way I live and talk.

This experience will change you, I guarantee it, but YOU have to be willing to change. To all me fellow walkers – Thank you for all the support you give and the love I feel.

God Loves You And So Do I (GLYASDI)

Michele

Thanks for Husbands!

Standard

I have been a wife for many years now (11 to be exact). I met my husband when I was still a teenager, dated him for several years, and married him right after graduating from college. In many ways, we have grown up together, learning how to manage all of the responsibilities that come along with being an adult. He suffered through the first few years of my bad cooking, white shirts dyed red in the washing machine, and cars that broke down because I forgot to service them. I suffered through his general messiness, beers of the world collections, and inability to be on time for anything. Through it all, our friendship and love has grown and matured.

Yesterday, I was in charge of hosting an open house. It was a horrible day- cold, windy, and raining. The thought of setting up my signs in the rain had put me in a grouchy mood all morning. To my surprise, when we arrived in town, my husband insisted that I stay in the car while he set out all the signs. Despite the fact that he was going to have to spend the day soaking wet, he still did what he could to make my day better and more manageable. Aren’t I lucky? In a day in time where so much of our social media focuses on feminism and equal rights and how men are ‘holding us down’, we rarely hear about the husbands quietly supporting and caring for their spouses. Going to work every day, and working hard to support their families.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.

So today, I just want to give thanks to my husband, and hope that he gives thanks for me too!!

Go Ahead, Make My Day

Standard

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience, …” Colossians 3:12

Well, the yesterday didn’t start out very well…I overslept (yes, even retired people can do this).  My husband and I had to jump up and rush around so that he could get to his breakfast meeting with another Pastor, and I would be ready to drive our granddaughter to school.  I didn’t have time for breakfast and when Katelyn arrived, she was being a typical Monday morning teenager;  rolling her eyes, shrugging instead of answering my questions, looking generally  bored and unhappy.  When we started out the door, I wasn’t in a good mood.

Then something happened.  We got to her school and pulled up to the drop off area.  It was a gusty day and one of the male teachers on duty came right up to the passenger door.  He opened it saying, “It’s windy, so I want to make sure your door doesn’t get away from you and is closed tightly” and then “Hello Katelyn, have you got everything?”  He gave me a little wave.  I hadn’t said a word, but his kind and helpful manner changed the way I was feeling.  Instead of feeling irritable and grouchy because of my growling stomach, I felt happy and thankful to be noticed and treated helpfully and personally.  It turned my day and my attitude around.

So my question is, why don’t we all do this more often?  Why don’t we take the time to see the people around us as people and realize that our behavior may make or break their day?  It doesn’t really take much  effort to be courteous;  to say thank you;  to be patient when someone is struggling or new on the job; to address someone by their name if we know it or see it on a nametag; to offer help or hold a door or just say “have a blessed day.”

Did someone make your day today?  Thank them and thank God.

Thankful for Stress!!

Standard

Giving thanks to God is easy when times are good. Sitting around the table this Thanksgiving with family, it is easy to remember why I am so blessed and thankful for all of the things that God has given me. But what about in the more trying of times? I have always been a person who dislikes conflicts and gives in easily to stress, so there are certainly times when I am not feeling very thankful. Usually it is just something small- a stressful day at work, a real estate deal that fell through, or an angry customer or client. Do I give thanks to God for my blessings during these times? Nope- instead, I usually resort to self pity, complaining, and sharing the conflicts around with friends and family members.

Reading this verse helps me put things into perspective:

1 Thessalonians 5:18

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

It is important to remember how insignificant the specifics of each day are; it is just a drop in the pool of what is the ‘big picture’ or ‘God’s Plan’. It is comforting to take peace in knowing that everything is a part of this large plan; and that instead of feeling stressed, I need to look for the learning experience and grow from each small catastrophe in life. God is great and life is good!!