Gratitude

It is 30 something degrees (Fareinheit) outside. Rainsnow (a.k.a sleet) is pouring down (or was) during today, making for hazardous driving conditions. I am fighting a cold.  Some of my family have to drive in this rainsnow. But despite everything that has gone on this week, I am grateful.

First of all, I am grateful that I don’t have to work today. It may sound weird, being that people pride themselves on being able to earn money and be productive. But  not working, means that I am allowed much needed rest from the cold I’m having. Not working means that I’m not risking my life or health driving in these treacherous conditions to get to work.

I am also grateful for this cold, for it is a reminder for me to rest in God and not to go about my day forgetting about Him or who He is, and an opportunity that even though I am physically (and spiritually) weak, that He is strong in all those ways.

I have also had the opportunity to watch Gratitude by Nichole Nordeman and be reminded that even though God may not always give me what I desire or what I think I need, God always provided me with what I truly did need.

So, no matter what you are going through, where you are in life, what tragedies may have befallen you this year, this is a reminder to you (and me) to be grateful for every blessing that God has provided.

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Blessed

Even though my world may be plagued with problems or strife, even ones of my own making, I am beyond blessed. Not only because of the gifts I have received this year or even that I was able to even get out of bed this morning, but also because there were reminders everywhere of the goodness of Jesus today, and this year.

My Christmas started with reading a reminder from Jesus Calling about the glory of God and the wonder of my Savior’s birth. Then, after I ate my breakfast, I opened the gifts from my friends….but that was not the most important part. It was a note from one of my friends who told me in essence: You are loved. God  loves you more than you know. More than your doubts and fears. 

This showed in the thoughtfulness in each of their gifts and notes of appreciation. For example, one friend gave me a picture album of the good times I had with my friends with thoughtful scripture. Another gave me a scarf and hat that she knitted herself.

Then, because I was sick (having a cold), I slept again until about 9:30 am.

In the afternoon, my family and I ate lunch. Later that day, my dad came home from work and my parents and brother overwhelmed me with gifts and hugs. God through them also provided exactly what I needed and wanted. I hope my feeble gifts to them (and to my aforementioned friends were enough to thank them). Also, my brother, mom, and I played a game of Scrabble, which I lost—terribly, but that didn’t matter, because it was the time  with them (and the fact that the Bulls game we were watching ended successfully for our team!) and the reminder of the love and time given by them that mattered most.

As I am writing this, I am reminded by the people who didn’t receive anything—not even love or time with their loved ones this year. I am reminded by the people who are in pain or who have had to spend time without a loved one this year, and how difficult it must be for them right now.

For those of you, who are experiencing pain of any type or who have this year, this is what God is begging me to say to you (and to remind me as well):

You are loved. God loves you. More than your doubts and fears. To prove that, He came as a baby in a manger in a small town of Bethlehem, so we could have any blessings at all and to be with us in all our circumstances, especially in the pain and the hurt we feel sometimes. 

We are indeed blessed. Merry Christmas!

 

Pain and Hope

When a plant starts to grow, sometimes parts of it that are bad or will impede its growth, have to be pruned or sheared so it can  grow better. So, it is with humans. So, it is with me.

Every time I am pruned and sheared by God, the process is painful and seems to last forever. For instance, I was searching for a job for a long time, before I found my current one. Also, this month has been peppered with personal and other disappointments for me. Specifics? No thank you, but  I wanted to find out how people cope with extremely difficult situations, and come out stronger and more faithful to God, and not curse Him to His face (or worse yet, behind His back), or not become on the edge of  being suicidal  all the time.

First, I realized when I am pruned or sheared by God, He wants me to remember that He is doing what is best for me at the time and He wants me to be thankful for what I still do have. For instance, when my former pastor left the church, it was painful and difficult letting go of him. But little did I know God had a plan for me in meeting my now-current pastor and for growing in my faith further with his leading us, something that would probably not have happened in the way God wanted my faith to grow had the old pastor stayed.

Also, I realized when I am pruned or sheared by God, I can better relate to others who are going through a difficult time. When I am happy as a clam, I cannot feel what others are going through as easily as if I am going through a difficult time myself. I can emphasize and love better.

Finally, when I am pruned or sheared by God, I am better able to see what matters most. I am not as attuned to materialistic or other pursuits that don’t matter in the eternal scheme of things. I start to see through the lens of eternity and know that not only (during this time of year) that Jesus (and God) is the reason for the season, but is the reason for every good thing, and that He will carry me in His arms tenderly during this painful time, whispering “I am with you.”