Excavation of ThanksLiving

Yesterday was ThanksLiving Day. We can give thanks or we can just make it a way we live – in finding ways to be thankful even when we have to drag in the excavation crew to clear away the shambles and shine a light on fresh perspective. It’s possible, even probable when we have the right tools. Here’s one of them. Ready crew?

Have you ever had a decision to make and set up a piece of paper with a line drawn down the center so you could list Pros on one side and Cons on the other? If you haven’t, this thanksliving tool will still work for you. Remember the tough job of excavation is to dig deep and move earth. Instead of Pros and Cons, we’re looking for Thankful on one side and Troubled on the other. Let the excavation begin!

We are entering the season of lists, kept where we can find them quickly to keep track of what to do or things to buy. Like those lists, leave this one where it’s easily accessible.  We all have much to be thankful for and many things that trouble us. When you feel troubled, write it down. When you feel thankful, write it down. That’s the easy part, the survey of the land. Excavation – turning over dirt – digging deep – leveling the land – that’s the tough part.  Ready for the challenge?

It seems impossible to be thankful for troubling circumstances, sadness, heartbroken loneliness, anxiety, frustrations, boredom, illness, and shattered relationships.  Daniel experienced all those things yet it says in Daniel 6:10 “Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God.” We think uttering the words ‘thank you’ is like lying to yourself or is the same as telling God you’re exuberant and happy, when in fact you’re deeply distressed. This is not a high five thank you; but instead is an opportunity to tell God you’re not happy, and ask him to teach you what you need to learn – like leveling the wreckage.

Remember the excavation task is heavy lifting. Don’t try this alone. Call on trusted friends who will pray you through trouble without knowing the details. Recently I was shocked to learn that women all over the country were praying for me during the recovery period of my debilitating accident.  Prayers are effective in any situation: troubling, devastating, sorrowful, depressing, exciting, happy, anticipatory, contented – prayer is universal and inclusive.  This truth shared Colossians 1:9 carries over into our lives today “We have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives.”

We don’t know why – but we can know that it’s God’s will for us to be thankful in all circumstances.  1Thessalonians 5:18 “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Being thankful in all circumstances is never easy, but it will change your life; and change it for the better.  Now giving up is always an option, but what will come of that? Nothing good; constant regurgitation of the same old cycle. Think of Nehemiah. Wasn’t he some sort of contractor with a huge excavation and building challenge? He was dealing with defeat too.  Guess what he was up against. Nehemiah 6:9 “They were trying to intimidate us into quitting. They thought, “They’ll give up; they’ll never finish it.” I prayed, “Give me strength.””  Seriously …. He prayed for strength to go on, to finish his task.  “Lord, give me strength.”

To live thankfully we need audacious faith and wisdom to live with an attitude of gratitude. There’s an app for that. James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”  Lord, give me wisdom to live like your child and teach me how to be thankful in all circumstances, even when I feel like my life is a shipwreck. Show me the path you have for me so I can get on it and serve you this day.  Thank you for monitoring every detail of my life and working them out in ways that best honor and glorify you. Amen

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Talk, Text or Type

It takes a village … do you remember that platitude from the past? It grew to broad popularity then melted into obsolescence like ice cubes on a sizzling hot sidewalk. (do you feel warmer now)

This morning I looked up ‘thanks’ in a concordance and started reading scripture that revealed a true spirit of thankfulness. It was steroids for the soul. If you’re looking for just one chapter to refresh you, try Psalm 107.  But here’s my favorite Psalm 106:47 “Save us, Lord our God, and gather us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise.”

I was thinking of how we celebrate as a society, especially when enticed by the vivacious spirit of holidays. Conversations focused on one topic segue into the casual, “Got any plans for the holiday?” or “What are you doing over the holiday?”

Someone posted this fill in the blank question yesterday “I am thankful for _____________.”  It’s not a new question and the answers, many repetitive, were all true representations of authentic thankfulness. Since I practice the answer to that question and have answered it multiple times, this time the response had to be original.

“I am thankful for multiple methods of communicating” with people we love and care about. Email, telephone, texting, social media.  Awhile back I must have been listening to a message in Colossians because I highlighted this verse Colossians 4:8 “I am sending him to you for the express purpose that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts.”  God puts people in our lives to fill a purpose and he puts us in the lives of others to fill a purpose.  What can we do with that?

Today is Thanksgiving … just the start of another year of ThanksLiving!

Today we can Talk, Text, or Type – which of these multiple methods will you use to encourage someone as an expression of your heart?  Happy ThanksLiving everyone!

Unmerited Favor

I have a confession to make. Today I was given an award that I didn’t deserve, but I accepted it quietly, speechlessly, and with gratitude more than I was able to express at the time. I should explain.

I spent 3 hours in the presence of greatness today. Bonnie Washburn, Brenda Benedict, and Kathryn Armstrong. These three Extraordinary Women are uniquely gifted and amazingly talented.  Trust me on this – they are awesome and they are great. I would say a lot more but I know they would make me delete my post and all that eloquent expression would be an effort in futility.

Katheryn, among her many talents is an epic blogger and writes several that I read with admiration; one of them the subject of the award I accepted without earning it.  On October 30, Kathryn Armstrong posted a contest on her blog where I could win a book by Beth Moore. http://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2013/10/30/beth-moore-book-contest/ I fully intended to participate.  I have read and participated in eight Beth Moore Bible studies and kept the workbooks, that pretty much qualifies me to enter the contest and be awarded a book if my entry was chosen. So why didn’t I? Competition in any form makes me choke. I choked. Something else that makes me choke is being favorited when I didn’t do anything to deserve it. So for Kathi and anyone else interested, here are favorite Beth Moore quotes from my favorite studies.

Loving God with all your mind means “We apply the principle of feeding what we want to live and starving what we want to die. In other words we start feeding the spirit and starving the flesh.” – When Godly People Do Ungodly Things

God’s primary purpose in healing us from our hurts is to introduce us to new depths of relationship with Himself. – Breaking Free

We have a choice in which fire our tongues light. Our words can bring comfort and courage or destruction and deafness. – James Mercy Triumphs

For every hopeless sorrow, if we cooperate with God, he’ll turn every single one of our failures into something useful for his kingdom. – Daniel Lives of Integrity Words of Prophecy

We have the mind of Christ but don’t know how to activate it. There are few things we need more than spiritual discernment. We need to know what to do, how to proceed, and how to respond to situations. We pursue wisdom and discernment and they don’t come to us by accident. We grow in discernment through prayer, pursuit, and practice. – Faithful Abundant True

Death cannot come to obedient children of God until they have finished their testimony. Strengthened by His power and shielded by his protection, we will reach our goal. – Jesus the One and Only

I was assured that there were two copies of the book so another was rightfully awarded to the person who did the work. When I reached out to accept the book, I realized the topic is one I have thought about studying for the past couple years, but never pursued it as passionately as God wanted me to do.  Whispers of Hope – 10 weeks of devotional prayer – by Beth Moore

Thank you Kathryn, Brenda, and Bonnie for being Extraordinary Women who have impacted my life in ways only you could do. I am blessed. Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Weekend plans?

YAY for Friday! I always think I’m going to sleep in an extra hour on Friday sort of a way to  reward myself for working hard during the week. Somehow I don’t think 4:30 equates to extra sleep. In fact, I think it’s backward! When I woke up this morning I was thinking about the Bible Study I attended last night. So there is my thankful theme for today. I am thankful for the Bible Study about Abigail. I knew one thing about her at the start of the study – she was married to David. That’s it! I learned that she was beautiful inside and out, was assertive, intelligent, used discernment, and made wise decisions. Abigail had integrity and bravely stood up for what she knew was right  And if you read the story in 1Samuel 25 you will see descriptive words to imply that she was a natural at all those things – because the scripture says “Abigail acted quickly.” I love the words integrity, faith, wisdom, and discernment. I believe that if you get the inside right, the rest will take care of itself, going beyond the commercialized ‘beauty is skin deep’.

I wanted to learn more about Abigail and did a search to find more of her story. Reading verse 42, it says “Abigail quickly got on a donkey and, attended by her five female servants, went with David’s messengers and became his wife.” There was nothing more after that. I guess we don’t need to know more about her to understand the quality of her character enough to want to emulate it. My prayer today is that at the point of struggle, we look inward to find integrity, discernment and focus on them until they become the strongest motivator for getting things right.  If we get the inside right, the rest will take care of itself.

Friday is here; the weekend is on the way. One more sleep before Saturday.  Do you have a list? What’s on it? I hope it includes things that bring joy to your heart.  There’s a hint in Psalms 86:11 on how to make that happen. “O Lord, teach me how you want me to live! Then I will obey your commands. Make me wholeheartedly committed to you!” On your list for Saturday is there an entry to make preparations to worship on Sunday?  Most of us have to plan for it. Life is busy; Sunday is no exception – but if we really love God we will seek him, learn all we can about him, so we can serve him. In Matthew 4:10 Jesus said ““Worship the Lord your God, and only him. Serve him with absolute single-heartedness.” I love that ‘serve with absolute single-heartedness.’

I made a big long list of things I wanted to accomplish over the past week and last night realized, was surprised actually, that I got everything done. That never happens, never. If you seem to wake up on Sunday with too many options and opt for the couch instead of choosing one, maybe it will help to put ‘Go to church’ on that weekend list. It might be just the impetus you need to be like Abigail and ‘act quickly’.

Something to remember today and every day: Nothing is better than this day. (repeat till believed)

The Moodiness of God

I’m not sure why, but I decided to repost my first ever written post on this blog. This will be post #340 here on talkkindnesstome.com.  Before you read let me say I hope what you read here today is not at all like what you experienced yesterday or will experience today. Instead I hope your day is bathed in the light of life and that you have unspeakable joy.  I pray that for everyone who reads.

There is opportunity every day to experience the moodiness of others; sometimes even the moodiness of myself.  There are days when I’m mystified by the raw, biting attitudes of people who seem to be numb to the effect their attitudes have on co-workers, friends, and even their family – sometimes especially their family. Recently I was listening to one side of a conversation and as the dialog continued, I could feel the tension and heat in the air as the power play continued. While it was impossible to detect the winner, both parties were certainly defeated.  It’s painful for someone like me who just wants everyone’s world to be perfect to witness the obvious peril of individuals who can’t agree, put aside grievances, and just get along.  Right!  Perfect is just a word, it’s not a state of being.  In this world there will be disagreements …. LOUD and hurtful disagreements.

This is what hurts even more.  A friend who finds fault, and criticizes instead of supports and encourages.  A friend who is generally kind, but lets every little irritation become a battle, and everyone inside the circle become targets and victims of the schrapnel.  We are all so human.  In this world there will be pain and sadness. I don’t often read the some of the forgotten books of the Old Testament, but Ecclesiastes 8:9 from the Message  spoke to me. ” All this I observed as I tried my best to understand all that’s going on in this world. As long as men and women have the power to hurt each other, this is the way it is.”

If this happens, run – don’t walk to the book of Psalms where you will find spiritual comfort food and cool water for your totally dehydrated spirit. Psalm 59:16 says “I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.”  Then believe that God is bigger than any problem you have. Jeremiah 32:17 was written for those of us who need to be reminded of that. “Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.”

I am so glad God is always the same.  If He disagrees with something I’ve done, He responds the same as He does when I do something right.  And just because I do something right doesn’t mean I will live a life free of pain.  My life is a process lived out through faith in a God who never changes.  He doesn’t get indignant and change his words to get back at me. He doesn’t turn his back on me when I make a mistake.  He doesn’t expect me to do stupid things then reject me as damaged goods when I do. In fact look at the proof in Lamentations 3:22-26 “I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is God’s faithfulness. I will wait for him. The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him.”

God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  His mood and acts toward me are not dependent on my waivering mood or flawed acts toward Him.

God doesn’t have mood swings.

Amen

What happens when it storms in Michigan?

Does anyone remember the story in Luke 8 when the disciples and Jesus got into a boat – like a  normal day.  But this day was not at all destined to be normal. There was nothing in the atmosphere that spoke of a storm coming. Storm Team 8 didn’t even have time to set up their gear and pick up the signal for radar.  The warm, sunny day ahead turned treacherous, dangerous and the squall came up suddenly. Remember once they set sail, Jesus said he was going to the lower deck and catch a few Zs. In that raging, roiling sea he fell asleep.  Unbelievable, right? The boat was tossed and turned like a ping pong ball on a class 9 river. Taking on water, the boat was in serious trouble and where was the one dependable person? In the bottom of the boat sleeping soundly.

I can just hear the disciples, can’t you? We have to get the master up. He can’t be sleeping when we’re in so much trouble. What if we capsize and are overtaken by water. We can’t leave Jesus asleep when we are fighting for our lives here. So they pounded down the ladder and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” Now I have to ask you – is that a self-fulfilling prophecy or not! I wonder if they could have calmed themselves by praying for courage first, then said something like, “Master, could you come to the upper deck and look at this crazy storm. We need your help.”  Well – they probably would have added urgency to the message like “We need your help – like NOW!” They were human after all.

Jesus rose from where he slept, “rebuked the wind and the raging waters” I can see him stretch his arms into the pouring rain and saying “Peace,,,Peace…Be still.”  And the sea was calm, the waves barely rippling against the side of the boat.  Can’t you hear the gently lapping of water, and air as wispy as silk across your face? Peace, peace, be still. That’s all it took from the Master, Savior, Jesus.

Before he let them get away though, Jesus had to know “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples. This was the ultimate teachable moment and these men who believed in him, served him, grew in knowledge about him, and loved him were absolutely amazed. They asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”

Psalm 107:29 says He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.”

Who is this Jesus who has the power to calm the storm, bring peace to our hearts, keep us safe, and brings us hope? I’m going to praise him in the storm – the one in the atmosphere today and the one I might encounter tomorrow.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCpP0mFD9F0

Faith – Who needs it anyway?

Have you ever been on the cusp of a new experience and had no idea how it was going to work out? One chapter comes to a close and the next one opens with an unknown plot.  Scary! What if I made a bad decision? What if the results are disastrous? What if it doesn’t work out? Those are not my thoughts, but the enemy of my soul will be very adept at substituting my productive thoughts with debilitating fears. In case you’re going though a rough patch and you’re facing a difficult situation, let’s help each other through it by examining our attitude toward faith so we can strengthen it from the root.  When we get the inside right, the outside will take care of itself. Right? F-A-I-T-H

F         Forever – Wavering is part of our nature.  Nothing is perfect, bad things happen and we get discouraged, but life is a huge mixing bowl with an overload of good mingled in there too.  Through every situation and every decision, we have the ultimate guide.  Psalm 48:14 God is our God forever and ever; He will guide us to the end.

A         Adversity – Someone said “That which does not kill me, makes me stronger.” When we go through adversity, we will become stronger if we learn from it. Athletes know the muscle pain of overexertion. Little tears in the muscle occur but healing makes it stronger. When we struggle through adversity, what can we learn that makes us stronger? It could be a learning a new skill, discovering a solution to a problem that’s laid dormant for a long time, or maybe it’s simply finding a new coping mechanism. I like the Message interpretation of Proverbs 18:14 & 15 A healthy spirit conquers adversity, but what can you do when the spirit is crushed? Wise men and women are always learning, always listening for fresh insights.

I          Impossible – I love the word ‘impossible’. There is nothing quite so motivating as proving wrong the impression that an act or a goal is impossible. I’m sure I developed that attitude at the age of 11 when I first watched the movie Cinderella. There was a song that proclaimed very emphatically that impossible things happened every day.  And don’t they? If God is in it, the impossible becomes the Possible.  Another verse from the Message Ezekiel 36:27 I’ll put my Spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you and live by my commands.

T         Timing – How many times have I argued with God about his timing. “God, look at me here.  Time is nothing to you, but it’s everything to me . . . ” Does that sound at all familiar?  But God reminds me that it is he who is in control, he sees the tapestry in all its intricate detail where all I see is one tangled mess of threads.  Psalm 18:20-24 GOD made my life complete … he gave me a fresh start. Now I’m alert to GOD’s ways; I don’t take God for granted. Every day I review the ways he works …  GOD rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.

H        History – Reviewing my past proves over and over again that God is faithful.  He has been my comforter, my cheerleader, my sustainer, my helper, and my guide. I make mistakes.  Every day, I can count on me to blunder at something. There might be painful consequences from some of those mistakes, but somehow I move on; by some miracle I find my way back to the right track. All I am and all I hope to be are made possible by the creator and sustainer of all things. 1 Chronicles 29:10-13  Everything in heaven, everything on earth is God’s!  Riches and glory come from him and he is ruler over all; God holds strength and power in the palm of his hand to build up and strengthen all. And here we are, giving thanks to God because of how he always was and who he always will be. God never changes. He is God.

What have we learned about F-A-I-T-H today? This simple fact. We need faith in the God who never changes because the path of life is ever changing. We need to look toward the light of the world who shines his light on our path so we can first find it, then stay on it.  John 8:12 Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.