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Why Give Thanks?

IMG_0424I have written about this many times and it seems to be a life’s mission for me.  We are supposed to be thankful for everything.  Last year, I attended a seminar where the presenter suggested that people write down at least 3 things to be thankful for each day.  One woman spoke up and said, “But what if we don’t have anything that day?”  Are you serious?!  Uh, you’re breathing! That counts for one! There is always something to be thankful for!

So, we’ve all seen articles and heard interviews where people share why it is important for us to give thanks.  In the United States we believe we even have a holiday to celebrate: Thanksgiving, so regardless of religion or faith, our nation is to be a thankful nation.  Other cultures and countries also celebrate festivals to express gratitude during the harvest season. It seems this is a great time to be thankful.

Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., the author of Gratitude Works!: A 21-day Program for Creating Emotional Prosperity suggests 5 reasons why giving thanks is actually good for you.

  1. Counting blessings boosts your health by lessening depression and lowering blood pressure and creating more optimism.
  2. A daily practice of gratitude even slows down some of the effects of neurodegeneration that occurs as we age.
  3. Positive emotions like appreciation significantly lowered levels of cortisol which is the “stress hormone.”
  4. Being thankful increases oxytocin, the “bonding hormone” so it helps you in your relationships.
  5. Gratefulness is good for the heart and the waistline and may achieve a 10% reduction in systolic blood pressure and decrease dietary fat intake by up to 20%.

These are all great benefits of being grateful, but I’d like to add one more reason we should give thanks. In 52 A.D. the apostle Paul wrote, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” I think he may have been on to something.  It seems this concept of gratitude has been around a long time. Why give thanks? There are many reasons and benefits, but I do because the Bible tells me to.

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So Close, So Far

I28Haiti-articleLarge go onto my computer in the morning to check Facebook.  Another typical day.  I have a couple of messages from friends, both asking me how I am doing.  I respond to the first one, giving the details of my busy schedule, the chores like grocery shopping and preparing for the holidays and I complain a bit about how much clutter I have in my home.  The other one asks and I reply, “We are well.”  Because we are.  You see my first friend who asked lives a few miles away in a home similar to mine with a family similar to mine.  The second friend lives 1577 miles away in Haiti, the poorest country in the northern hemisphere. It is difficult to admit to my Haitian friend that the things that make me busy, also make me blessed.

Only 706 miles from Miami, FL is a country where 50% of the population is undernourished. 2,500,000 people live in extreme poverty and they are currently going through dangerous civil unrest.  It hasn’t been safe for the children who are blessed to afford school to even attend and the schools have not even begun for the 2019/2020 school year yet.  How can this be?  How can a country be so close and yet so far away?

I’ve had the privilege of going to Haiti and meeting some wonderful, hard-working people who want to improve their situation but are fighting an uphill battle. They face uncertain conditions because they were born in an unstable country. They are raising families in a country where 2 out of 3 people live on less than $2 a day. I am blessed to be raising a family in a country where most people I know spend more than $2 a day on junk food we don’t even need.

I share this with you to let you know that I want to help my neighbors.  I want to help the Haitian people. Last year I was able to go and help them physically.  At this point, it wouldn’t be safe for me to travel there to help, so I hope to raise funds to send in place of me.  I hope you will join me in this effort. If you ever want to take the money you spend on junk food and put it to good use instead, feel free to give it to Hearts 4 Haiti and we will see that it helps someone in Haiti who needs it.

So how are you doing today? I hope you can answer “well.”

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Bible Study Tidbits

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“What will you do the next time you find yourself being suspicious, exaggerating, guessing, or making assumptions about someone’s behavior?”

This morning brought cold temperatures and a member of the Wednesday morning Bible Study couldn’t make it because her furnace stopped working! As I was preparing to fill her in on some scriptures and thoughts she missed, I decided that I would write a blog about it and share it with all.  We are working very slowly through the book Loving God with All Your Mind by Elizabeth George. We are working through it very slowly because it is so full of information.  (I have an extra copy if you’d like to borrow it!)

Playing Mind Games – Do you regularly entertain any of these thoughts about other people? “I don’t think he/she means what he/she said.” “I wonder what I’ve done wrong.” “I wonder what he/she thinks about me.” “I wonder what he/she wants from me.”  Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

What truths in these verses could help you with your nagging thoughts about what other people are thinking?

Read Phil 4:8 – How will asking yourself “What is true?” help you to stop second-guessing your relationships?

Read Matthew 18:15 – How can obedience to this command assist you in your relationships?

What is a similar command in James 4:17?

If no one comes to you with a personal issue, what can you assume?

How does remembering the wisdom of Proverbs 28:1 help you proceed in your relationships?

Now, it’s time to apply God’s principles to your thoughts!  Consider what you’ve learned from Philippians 4:8 and what the guidelines “true” and “real” offer for your thoughts.  What can you do, and what can God do to keep you from torturing yourself with unfounded (& therefore, probably inaccurate) thought about what other people are thinking and feeling?

What will you do the next time you find yourself being suspicious, exaggerating, guessing, or making assumptions about someone’s behavior?

How would your relationships improve if you accepted people’s words at face value? Can you think of one specific instance where this would have helped?

Of course, we had a lot of discussion with these questions.  We will discuss the following next time!

Read Hebrews 4:12.

How is the Word of God described? What is God’s Word able to do? How does the Bible help you in your thought process?  What must you do to tap into this power?

I always look forward to our time together.  If you are online and want to comment, feel free!  And, if you are local….give me a call, I can loan you my book!

 

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Love Is…Giving the Benefit of the Doubt

50bc8f7d17f66d15e99c5cf35a5ce407“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”  — John 13:34

Many of you may remember the Love Is…cartoons from the 1970s.  It depicted a boy and a girl drawn nude (with no private parts showing.)  They had sentiments like “Love is never having to say you’re sorry, having his picture on your mirror, taking one day at a time.”  These cutesie cartoons had some light sayings and also some meaningful sayings.  Though we may know of a cartoon that answers the sentence “love is…” I hope we are even more familiar with the scripture that states “Love is….”  1 Corinthians 13:4-8 has a long list of what love is. We probably remember this passage from weddings.  Love is patient, Love is kind. It does not envy or boast, it is not proud and the list goes on.

We have access to lists of what love is, but the scripture I started out with may make love a little more challenging.  We have been given a command to love one another as God has loved us.  That makes love about more than cutesie phrases and also more than loving your spouse because they read Corinthians at your wedding, it means loving one another.  It means loving all the people you come in contact with each day whether you choose to or not.  It means loving the neighbor who runs their chainsaw before you wake in the morning, it means loving the person who is tailgating you when you drive to town and it means loving the person who yells at you when you accidentally bump into them in a store. Because we are loved by the most high, we also need to love others, even them. In order to do that, we need to stop and consider them and their possible circumstances and assume the best of that individual.  Instead of being offended by someone, we need to have compassion for them. We need to give them the benefit of the doubt.

32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. –Ephesians 4:32

What does that look like? Instead of being angry at your neighbor waking you, have compassion for him that he has so much work to do that he has to start before dawn. The lady riding your bumper even though you are driving 5 miles above the speed limit? She may have received a call to get to the hospital as soon as possible. The angry person in the store may have just lost his job and is there to cash his last paycheck. In all instances, the truth is that we don’t know why others act the way they do, but we are commanded to love them.

We need to let go of petty offenses that are offered by others and put those offenses behind us. Our calling to love is greater than the offenses behind. We are called to love others. Love is….giving the benefit of the doubt.

 

 

 

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Another Phase of Life

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Photo by ajay bhargav GUDURU on Pexels.com

I woke this morning, the day after Paul’s 20th Birthday and realized that I am NOT the parent of a teenager for the first time in 16 years!  I have been parenting a teen for 16 years and yet, at times, I feel unqualified for the position.  Everyone who raises a child gets to train during the teens for 7 years, but the way my children are spaced, I’ve been in the teen years over twice as long and still feel like a rookie!

This discovery has given me something to ponder.  I have three children out of the nest and I find them to be awesome, productive adults.  They are people that are very interesting and quite honestly, I don’t think they’d run in the same adult circles as me so I wouldn’t have ever met them if they wouldn’t have been my children.  They are my children, but they are their own selves. I am amazed over who they have become. Actually, I’d like to take credit for some of it and maybe I do at times, but I remember one time thinking that if I take credit for their accomplishments, I have to take credit for their stupid mistakes too and who wants to do that?! I mean, I have enough of my own stupid mistakes, I’m really not interested in taking on anyone else’s! So, my adult children became responsible adults and I’m not claiming that my mothering had anything to do with it.

My nest isn’t empty.  I still have a 20-year old who struggles in a different way and I’m still trying to teach, influence and mother him. AND, I still have a preteen to worry about. This morning, my mind was full of insecurity. Am I involved enough with my 7th grader, who her friends are, what activities she should participate in, etc.? Is she getting enough of my time and attention? Then I realized that those adult children of mine had a mother who was often distracted by younger children as we fostered over 40 kids during their teen years. I may have missed out on some of their events and I may have disappointed them at times, but quite honestly, I think that they are grateful that I didn’t have time to be overly involved in their relationships, homework, and other teen drama.

I think I will give this guilt I have a positive spin. I’m not going to feel guilty about not knowing everything about my 12-year-old’s life and I am going to trust her to make her own friends and even some of her own decisions. I’m taking these seven months of not having a teenager off and I’m going to see how much today’s problems matter then.  I’m betting not much.

Note: This blog was written months ago.  I am currently back in the trenches with a teen and rarely have time to ponder it!

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Want to Make a Difference?

IMG_0225While cleaning out my closet this past week, I came across a piece of paper with “If I really wanted to make a difference, I would ________”  written on it. The blank wasn’t filled in, and I have no idea when it was written, but I wonder what I would’ve filled in during that time.  If I had written it when I was a child, it might’ve said, “If I really wanted to make a difference, I would clean my room or study more.”  Maybe when I was mothering younger children, it would’ve read, “If I really wanted to make a difference, I would make my kids turn off the TV and play outside more.” But how should I answer it today?  What should I write in the blank?

If I really wanted to make a difference, I would _______.  Wait.  This time around, I realize I don’t have to include the blank.  It can be a complete sentence and a complete thought. “If I really wanted to make a difference, I would.”  I know how to make a difference and I have opportunities to do it every day.  If I really wanted to make a difference, I would raise funds for Haiti.  If I really wanted to make a difference, I would bake bread for my father in law. If I really wanted to make a difference I would organize a Salvation Army red kettle drive for our community. If I really wanted to make a difference, I would donate clothes to our local clothing drive or food for our local food cupboard.  If I really wanted to make a difference, I would help someone carry their groceries to the car. If I really wanted to make a difference, I would.

The season is upon us when we have the opportunity to make a difference in a variety of ways.  Instead of waiting to fill in the blank and consider what you would do to make a difference, just do it.  If you really wanted to make a difference, you would.  And, if you need any ideas on how just give me a call!

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In all things I have shown you how, working like this, you must help the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  — Acts 2035

Let every man give according to the purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or out of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver. — 2 Corinthians 9:7

And whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple, truly I tell you, he shall in no way lose his reward.  –Matthew 10:42

Give and it will be given to you: Good measure pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will men give unto you.  For with the measure you use, it will be measured unto you. –Luke 6;38

James 1:22 says ” Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” 

 

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Decluttering

IMG_0170In the last few years, I have been taking a slow and steady approach to ridding my home of excess.  Remember, I said SLOW but I also said steady.  It has been on my mind and quite honestly, I have made some progress, but there is a lot more that needs to be done.  I have enrolled in an online course to try to implement some of the things I know about simplifying and decluttering my home.  It’s early in the course, but one exercise that was recommended was to walk through your home and look at each room, see what it is you like about the room and also note was is excess that you don’t even enjoy. THEN, (this is the hard part) get a garbage bag and within an hour, walk through your home and fill the garbage bag with things you don’t want. My level of anxiety was going up just as I read the instructions.  I know things are lurking in my home that I don’t need or want, but I also don’t want to get rid of them.  Why is that?

Fortunately, the article I was reading suggested that you might find garbage and outdated magazines and clothes that don’t fit.  OK, I can do that…but can I? A few weeks ago, I was cleaning out a portion of my basement and came across lids for large storage containers.  18 to be exact.  18 storage container lids with no containers! Apparently, I didn’t want to throw out the lid because I was sure that I would find the container, but either the container got lost or broken and it’s lid remained.  They are gone now, but I’m sad to say that some of those lids date back a couple of decades! In the spring, I cleared out over 30 wine glasses from my cupboard.  That’s a lot of wine glasses for a Red Solo cup kind of girl! Just for fun as I rid myself of some of these items, I will count them. It may entertain me, but at this point, it also may sadden me. I have SO much.  I have been so blessed and there are so many that don’t have anything. I want to be ever mindful of the less fortunate.  As I go through my house, I hope I find things that I can give away so that others can find a use for and I look forward to getting rid of the tote lids and other useless things! Care to venture a guess on how many unmatched socks I might find?

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