A Time for Reflection. What Are You Thankful For?

give thanks

With Thanksgiving Day arriving, I am focused on being grateful for everything good in my life. While things are far from perfect, I am taking time to truly reflect on those things which I am grateful for.

I am so very thankful for:

  • God. For saving me, loving me and never forsaking me. If I had nothing else to be thankful for, that in and of itself would be enough.
  • My husband. We have been such a strong support for one another over the many years of marriage, but even more so over the last couple of difficult years. When I am weak, he is strong and vice versa.
  • My children. Though they can be a source of tremendous stress and worry, I am so grateful for both of them. Their kindness, their love and their smiling faces. It amazes me how quickly they have grown. I am thankful I can be here to watch them grow up.
  • My extended family who I know would be there for me if I needed them.
  • My job, that I get to go to each day. My house to come home to each evening. My car, to be able to get where I need to go. Enough money to pay my bills on time (mostly).  Enough food to eat each day.
  • My health.
  • My peace.
  • Most of all, I am thankful for being able to recognize the handiwork of God in my daily life. The small things that may go unnoticed by others.

I actually saw the handiwork of God in my life just the other day. I live on the east coast and we had some icy/wintry weather the recently. My usual vehicle is terrible when roads are slick. I have a back up vehicle that is an older SUV that I drive occasionally and especially in bad weather. I drove the SUV that day to and from work. I had no trouble at all.  I was actually thinking and said out loud to my husband, how grateful I was for that vehicle. Our Winter Rat, as we call it.

About an hour later, I had to go out to the store. As I started the vehicle and applied pressure to the break, I realized my foot was going all the way to the floor. There seemed to be no brake.  I thought maybe the line was frozen or something. I tried pumping the brakes. Nothing. I was able to put the car in reverse and back up some, but had to put my foot all the way to the floor, hard, to stop the car.  I had little to no brakes. Long story short, my brake line had a leak in it and all the surrounding parts were rusted out. This car was NOT safe to drive. No brakes!

As we contemplated what to do about the situation, either repair a costly problem on this old SUV or possibly look into buying another car (which I had been already considering), I realized how blessed I had been. How lucky was it that the brake failure occurred before I got on the road to go anywhere? How blessed was I that this didn’t happen earlier in the day, like on my way to work or on the way back home?  The roads were already a slippery mess. I can’t fathom what would have happened if the brakes went out while I was driving!  God’s provision and protection?

Taking Notice

When things like this happen in my life, I try to be fully aware of God’s presence. To be grateful and not take it for granted.  I smile to myself and at least internally, acknowledge God.

Imagine of all the times God has protected us. Without us even realizing it. Back in the early 80’s I used to listen to a song by Christian artist, Amy Grant. The title is, Angels.  Take a glance at the 2nd verse from this song.

God only knows the times my life was threatened just today.
A reckless car ran out of gas before it ran my way.
Near misses all around me, accidents unknown,
Though I never see with human eyes the hands that lead me home.
But I know they’re all around me all day and through the night.
When the enemy is closing in, I know sometimes they fight
To keep my fight from falling, I’ll never turn away.
If you’re asking what’s protecting me then you’re gonna hear me say:
Got his angels watching over me, every move I make,
Angles watching over me!
Angels watching over me, every step I take,
Angels watching over me

Can you imagine all the times, all the ways in which God has provided and protected us and we never fully knew it? I want to take the time this Thanksgiving to thank God for all the times he has protected me and my loved ones. The times when just the right song came on the radio to minister to me. For all the blog posts, tweets, Facebook connections that have spoken just the right words at just the right time.

For the little times in life, when things go right and literally cause a smile to draw to my lips. For the times that things seem to have gone wrong but were actually a way of preventing me from encountering disaster up ahead.  A delay that was for my benefit.  A “no” when I wanted a “yes” and being able to recognize those times and how the seemingly negative things, were a blessing in disguise. Or how even in the difficulties of life, He was there holding me up or comforting me.

What about you? Looking back can you identify the times in your life that God has shown up and perhaps you didn’t even realize it? Take the time today to reflect and thank Him for all of the protection and provision, seen and unseen. And from now on, be on the lookout for God’s handiwork in your daily life.

This Thanksgiving, in the midst of all the dinners and the shopping, don’t lose sight of the One to whom we should all be thankful to. I hope each and every one of you have a blessed Thanksgiving!

 

 

 

Peace, Where Are You?

Where is My Peace?

Listening to the news or scrolling through my social media feed can often times be a drain on me emotionally. To constantly hear and see the barrage of negativity. The evil, the disastrous, the tragic.  Seeing and hearing these images over and over again invariably have a less that positive affect on me.  I am only human. I feel empathy for those who are hurting. I feel anger when seeing those who are mistreated. Constantly being in those emotions is just not a healthy place for me or anyone to be.

When I was heavily struggling with anxiety and panic, I couldn’t watch the news at all. The horror of it all was just too overwhelming for me to deal with. The peace I longed for was so far away. If you have never “lost your peace” I am truly happy for you. If you have, you know too well how difficult it is to live like that. To be longing for nothing more than peace. Peace within your soul.

peace

Peace, for me means having a sense of calm despite the circumstances around me. In our humanness, it is near impossible to find true and lasting peace because our contentment, our joy always seem to be wrapped up in what is going on around us. For me personally, I have only been able to know true peace through my relationship with Christ.  When peace was just something I longed for, I desperately sought it. I tried meditation, medication, prayer, music, exercise, etc. While these things did help a little to bring about an inner calm for a period, none was lasting.

 

Discovering My Peace

For months, all I prayed for was peace. I didn’t care about anything else. It is hard for anything to go right or feel right in your life if your peace isn’t there. Over time I could feel God’s presence and slowly, bit by bit, peace filled up the place where anxiety lived.

Does that mean I feel calm and peaceful all the time? No. Definitely not. But each day I can declare that no matter what goes on in the world, either my little world or the world at large, I don’t have to lose my peace. I claim it as my own. It is the Gift of God.

With that being said, I try to do things to safeguard my mind. Limit the news, limit social media. Read more scripture, pray more. Do things that I enjoy. Do things to help others.  All these things strengthen the soul and help to keep my mind in perfect peace.

PHILIPPIANS 4:7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

A Life Uncertain, Where to Turn?

forking road

A Life Uncertain

Uncertainty is something that is hard to grapple with. Whether it is in regards to your health or your job, your relationships or your finances. Confused about which direction to take in life. Not knowing or being certain that things are going to be okay. These are hard places to be. It is very uncomfortable.

But if you think about it, our lives in general are full of uncertainties. Even the things we feel are secure, could all change in an instant. Nothing is guaranteed in this life. We can take that thought and let it control our mind and cause us all kinds of anxiety and fear. Let it disrupt our joy and contentment. Or we can fully realize that we are never the ones in control anyway. Of anything.

 

What Was Meant For Evil

When we trust in the Lord, we can know that He has His best for us. Though things may not seem to go the way we would like, we can be certain that what was meant for evil, can be turned around and used for our good.  This verse in Genesis comes to mind.

Genesis 50:20 New King James Version (NKJV)

20 But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.

 

No matter what uncertainty life is throwing at you right now, hold tight. God has got you. Spend time talking to Him, reading His word, leaning on Him. No matter the circumstance, Jesus is right there with you. Holding your hand and wrapping His arms of love around you.

I encourage you to read the story of Joseph (coat of many colors) in the Old Testament beginning in Genesis 37. So many horrible things happened to this man, but he never gave up. All of the things that others meant for his demise, God turned it out for his good and for God’s glory.

Despite the uncertainties of life, we can know that our Heavenly Father has us in the palm of His hand. He loves us and has a plan for our lives. So shake off your uncertainties and place your trust in Him.

 

 

 

Who Do You Turn To When Things are Good?

happy woman smiling balloon

When life isn’t going as you hoped or planned and you are hurting, where do you turn? I usually head straight to God. When things are so overwhelming I can’t handle it, I call on His Name.  I find it so comforting that I can go straight to Jesus with my pain, my fear, my hurts. I usually have no trouble reaching out to Him then.

It’s the times when things are going okay. I tend to fade out of our relationship. I acknowledge Him but don’t make it a priority to seek Him daily. I may make a conscious effort to do so…but never stick to it. How frustrating that must be for God. Just imagine your child. Only wanting to talk to you when they need something. Sure you are glad to help them out when they need it, but it would be also be nice to be able to have a real relationship with them. Get to know them and maybe for them to really get to know you. Be able to share things, both good and bad.

I am aware and conscious that my “good times” efforts toward a relationship with God are failing tragically. I want to get into the habit of talking with Him and reading His word daily. Even when things are going okay.  I know He forgives me when I fall short, but I am sure my life and our relationship would be a better one if I would put in a little effort.  What about you? Do you ever stray from God during the good times? Or are you able to communicate with Him all the time, regularly?

If you are like me and need a little structure to guide your relationship, I have come up with a few simple steps to help us get into a regular routine with God.

  • When you first wake up, say quietly in your head (or out loud), Thank You, Jesus!
  • Before you get dressed for the day, read 5 minutes of scriptures.
  • While eating breakfast, read 5 more minutes of scripture.
  • Before you go off to work or start your day, Pray for at least 5 minutes.
  • When you arrive at your first daily destination, thank God for getting you there safely.
  • Pray daily that He will use you to be a blessing to everyone you come in contact with that day, including and especially your family (we tend to have the least amount of grace for those closest to us sometimes).
  • Say a prayer before eating each meal.
  • At the end of the day, say a prayer of thanks for getting you through the day and for strength to do it all again tomorrow.

I know this may seem like a lot, but it is important for us to have God on our minds all throughout the day. These are just a few suggestions, tweak them as you need to suit your life. The main thing is that we communicate with Him regularly throughout the day.

I pray that each of us will learn to seek Him all the time and not just during times of trouble.  He is waiting for a real relationship with you.

How I Made It Through Some Trying Times

Woman with hands over face

Trying Times

Last year my family and I went through some very difficult times. There were many moments of despair and anquish. There were days I didn’t know how or if we could survive.

I prayed and cried out to God, I searched scripture after scripture trying to hold it all together. One of the great battles that I personally was dealing with was that I fully believed that God could heal, restore and make all things new, including this situation. I knew He was able. But my struggle came from the fact that God can fix all of our situations but for reasons we don’t understand,  He doesn’t always do so.

While I was trusting in His ability to help us in this situation, I just didn’t know if he would. Then while listening to the radio (K-Love) on my way to work one morning, I heard the song, Even If, by Mercy Me.  At the same time I was recalling the passage in the bible (Daniel 3) about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. These three faithful men refused to bow down to a false god knowing if they didn’t they would be thrown into a literal fire. But they didn’t fear. They were confident that God would rescue them. But they declared that even if He didn’t, they still refused to worship any other god.

Man, talk about faith! These three sure had it. This story and the song, Even If, were so powerful and sustaining to me. I am grateful for both. Take a few minutes to read the above referenced passages. Also take a glance at a few of the lyrics from the song.

I know You’re able and I know You can

Save through the fire with Your mighty hand

But even if You don’t

My hope is You alone

I know the sorrow, and I know the hurt

Would all go away if You’d just say the word

But even if You don’t My hope is You alone

Those words are powerful! I wanted to have such a faith that whether or not our situation improved, I would still have my Hope in Jesus. I would still have faith.

He is Faithful

For my situation, things definitely did improve. Things aren’t perfect and some of these issues may be on going, but they are much better to say the least. I am so very thankful. I am also thankful for the fact that He is faithful. Whether or not our situation improved, I am eternally grateful that He was and is still walking right beside me. Every step of the way.

Remember, no matter what happens or doesn’t happen, Jesus is right beside us. Comforting us when we are hurting. Reminding us that He’s there, always. Even if we aren’t rescued from the fire.