"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.
Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34 NIV

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Counting My Blessings

I cannot grumble and simultaneously be thankful for what I have. It is impossible. Either my mind focuses on what I am unhappy and worried about, or it concentrates on my blessings. My goal, therefore, is to train my mind to return to thankfulness when I am straying in the other direction.

To do this, I have made counting my blessings a priority. I keep a running list of the big and small things around me I would otherwise take for granted. Often, I write comments people made that brought a smile to my face. When gloomy shadows tempt to cover the sun, I return to this list and am reminded of the exquisite gifts God has given me in the midst of an otherwise ordinary life.

"Count Your Blessings," by Johnson Oatman, Jr. 
(Listen to the music)

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

     *Count your blessings, name them one by one,
       Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
       Count your blessings, name them one by one,
       Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.

When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings—wealth can never buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.

So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

Thank you, God, for every good and perfect gift which is from above. Amen.
(James 1:17)

Monday, November 19, 2012

If I Die

The revelation came while I was teaching my husband how to make pear cobbler, one of our favorite desserts. The recipe was partly in a cookbook and partly in my head.

"I can't believe I've never showed you how I make this," I murmured as he measured. In an often hidden corner of my mind, I thought, "At least now he can make it for himself if anything were to happen to me."

If anything were to happen to me. When something happens to you.

Those types of thoughts have been eroding my joy for awhile. The losses over the last year and a half have threatened to swallow me. Dad, Grandma, three teenagers, an infant, and over twenty seniors at the facility where I work have moved beyond the world I know, some to destinations I know not of.

"Why, God? Why this saturation in death? What am I to take away from this shadowed valley?"

The answers are not clear, but ever so quietly I hear, "Immerse yourself in truth and trust."

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, (Psalm 23:4a ESV)

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. (Psalm 20:7 ESV)

I am to trust in the Lord instead of trusting in the false security of loved ones I have in my life. I am to trust in the Lord instead of worrying about events that may not happen anytime soon. I am to trust in the Lord and rest on the promise that he will give me the grace I need to get through trials when they occur. 

I am to trust in the Lord. Period. 

Honestly, some fears were hidden so deep inside, only a stripping to the core could bring them to light. Can I possibly be thankful even for this? 

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me.. to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. (Isaiah 61:1-3a NIV)

I am willing to learn all he has to teach me though this season of life. I am not happy about this valley, but I am thankful. He is beside me, showing me more and more truth and a sweet side of him I never knew before.

Lord, I am claiming the beauty you promise to come from these ashes. You use all these situations to draw me closer to your side. The process hurts, but I know you desire even the deepest fears to be nailed to the cross. Thank you for never letting go of my hand. Amen. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Fear of Flying

The best exhibit at the children's museum was hidden behind a small curtain on the lower level. After our eyes adjusted to the dim light, we encountered a huge, white "shadow" wall. We giggled, posing in funny ways when the flash went off, then backing up to see our silhouettes frozen behind us.

Then my husband asked our son if he wanted to fly. The idea was to throw him up in the air so his shadow would be frozen above everyone else. It sounded like fun, but he forgot one small detail.

As he tossed our preschooler above his head, he was blinded by the flash and clumsily caught him by the legs, inches from the ground. It was quite a while before my pulse returned to normal, and our son was leery of his father's ideas for the rest of the day.

Similarly, God encourages me to give flying a try. He wants to see me soar and even gives me the power to do so, but at times I am afraid he will not catch me when I fall.        I fear that when I let go of the familiar, an unexpected flash will blind the one I put my      trust in.

When I follow this line of reasoning, I too am forgetting one small (huge) detail: God will always catch me when I fall. He knows all the "flashes" that will come my way and promises to keep me safely in his arms. I can trust him fully and feel confident as I explore the great heights of life. When I feel like I am in a downward spiral, I can take comfort in the truth. Nothing can separate me from God's love.

Yes, because God’s your refuge, the High God your very own home, evil can’t get close to you, harm can’t get through the door. He ordered his angels to guard you wherever you go. If you stumble, they’ll catch you; their job is to keep you from falling. (Psalm 91: 9-12, MSG)

We are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37b-39, ESV)

Thank you, Father, for catching me when I fall. I enjoy exploring the heights of your love and will try to boldly live in the freedom you offer me. Amen.