Tag Archives: Pray

Beyond Thankful…

Thanksgiving2014

This Thanksgiving, I want to challenge you.

I want to challenge you to go beyond. 

Beyond your dinner table. 
Beyond your home. 
Beyond your family.
Beyond your own blessings.

I want to challenge you to go beyond by remembering…

By remembering that out there somewhere is a lonely heart, a lost soul, a broken dream, a shattered life.

They are men, women, and children.  They are mothers, fathers, grandparents, husbands, wives, daughters, sons, friends, neighbors, strangers.  They are people.   And so many feel so alone.  This time of year can be so hard for many.

As you gather around your dinner table, sharing laughs and smiles with your family, remember the wife who said goodbye to her husband this year, who is learning to live without him, who is spending this Thanksgiving questioning why he’s no longer with her, why God had to take him away, why it hurts so much.  Remember all those grieving the loss of their loved ones, their significant other, their best friend.

Remember them and pray for them.

As you embrace your loved ones, your spouses, your parents and children, remember the broken families.  Remember the wives left behind to explain to their children why daddy moved away.  Remember the husbands lost in a world of confusion, wondering where things went so wrong.  Remember the children torn between mommy and daddy, two houses, feeling insecure and carrying burdens their little bodies were never meant to carry.

Remember them and pray for them.

As you think of all the blessings you have, remember the men, women, and children without a place to lay their head.  Remember the ones sleeping in the cold, with nothing more than a box for shelter.  Remember the ones with empty stomachs, wishing they could taste even the smallest crumb.

Remember them and pray for them.

As you share in the joy of watching your children play and giggle, embracing each hug and kiss, remember the families who laid their little ones to rest all too soon.  Remember the ones who cried out, “God, save him!” or “Can’t I hold her just a little longer?”

Remember them and pray for them.

As you hear others tell you how much they’ve missed you and how loved you are, think of the children who have no one to love them, who are tossed from home to home, living with no stability, no hope.  Remember those who sit in quiet corners, scared and alone, tucked away and forgotten or silent in fear.

Remember them and pray for them.

As you head out for holiday shopping and the temptation to become frustrated or annoyed with the hustle and bustle of overcrowded malls, empty shelves, and mass chaos, remember the employees who are working, sacrificing time with their loved ones, to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads.  Remember the emergency workers who risk their lives every day, including Thanksgiving and Christmas, who give selflessly, day after day, spending time away from their loved ones to be someone else’s hero.   Remember those who have lost their jobs, who have tried to provide for their families and now wonder how they will feed their children, much less give them a special gift at Christmas.

Remember them and pray for them.

As you sit back and think about the many things you are thankful for, remember the ones who are struggling to find a reason to be thankful, some who are just trying to find a reason to survive.  We have so much to be thankful for and yet for some of us, it’s an almost unimaginable feat.  Some days, just being thankful for the air we breathe is a grand accomplishment.  Some are stricken with illness, disease, unable to get out and enjoy each day.  Some are stuck in hospitals or nursing homes.  Some are consumed and plagued by depression and other issues that leave them bound up inside.

Remember them and pray for them.

When you share with others the things you are thankful for, the blessings God has poured into your life, remember where you came from.  Remember that everything in your life is a gift from God, your faith, your hope, your love.  Remember those who don’t share your beliefs.  Remember they are people too.  Remember that just because someone does not agree with you or believe the same as you doesn’t mean they are bad or wrong.  Be kind.  Be understanding.  Get to know them anyway.  Shine your light regardless of someone else’s beliefs.  Remember we all have to start somewhere but if we never give them a chance to start, if all we show is hate or disgusts, we are not shining the light of Christ!

Remember them and pray for them.

We live in a broken world with so much loss, hurt, pain, and torment.  For some, this is physical, current and real.  For others, it’s replayed over and over through memories of difficult times, sleepless nights that impact our ability to function, grief, trauma, and so much more.  It’s people of every race, sex, nation, and age.  Grief, loss, hurt, and pain are a part of life.  For many, each day comes with it’s own share of trials but the holidays can increase the loneliness, the burdens, the worries, the heavy weight of unbearable pain.

None of us are promised tomorrow.  As you gather with your loved ones, remind them how special they are, how much they mean to you, what a gift and blessing they have been.  Tell every person who crosses your path that they are important, they have a purpose, they are needed and loved.

And to push this challenge even further, I ask you not to stop at remembering and praying for them, but reach out. 

Lend someone a hand. 
Volunteer your time. 
Sing at a nursing home. 
Give a stranger a hug. 
Buy a child a toy or a coat. 
Take a homeless person to dinner. 
Ask someone what they are thankful for.  Tell them you are thankful for them!
Bake cookies for your local fire department and police department…and tell them thank you when you drop them off. 

Do something, anything to lift someone’s day, to give them a reason to be thankful. 

I promise, you’ll walk away with the bigger blessing…all because you gave.  This year, go beyond thankful!

I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the LORD Most High.
  Psalm 7:17

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.  Psalm 28:7

Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.  Psalm 106:1

And to share with you…I am thankful for music.  I am thankful for the men and women who travel the country to put music in our hearts, who’s words I’ve clung to in the most desperate moments and words that have filled my heart with joy and peace.  I am thankful for their talents, for the encouragement and blessings their words have brought into my life.  And here’s one of my favorites for you…

Lincoln Brewster “Made New”

 

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Oh the lessons…

Lessons

My heart sank when I walked in the room.

It was the first night of new Wednesday classes at church.  My class … a women’s Bible study on forgiveness.  (Insert big WOW here for – nothing like a big topic, right?!)

The book we are following, The Unburdened Heart by Suzanne Eller, is simply amazing.  She does a great job of writing so that no matter what your story is, you can relate to the thoughts and feelings expressed in the book.  I can’t say enough good things about it.  So for the past few weeks, I’ve been so excited about how God is going to work in the lives of the women who come to this class, myself included.  I can’t wait to see how he works and the amazing things he will do.

As excited as I was to start this journey, I was filled with anxiety and fear.  I had spent the whole day fretting over praying out loud.  A few weeks back, I shared a little here about how God was working on me with prayer.  Surely I could tackle this praying out loud thing, right?  I was going to do it this semester in class – I would take the reign and pray for the women in my class.  After all, God has been preparing me for this.  Still, I was afraid, nervous, anxious.

Philippians 4:6-7  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Instead, I walked in with nerves raging and quickly noticed an unfamiliar couple sitting in the room – a man and a woman.  Immediately, my heart dropped.  My class was suppose to be only women.  In my head, there was simply no room for a man.  We were facing some really big topics, the possibility of deep, intimate conversations, some that simply wouldn’t be possible with a man in the room.  Without asking him to leave, I gently warned him that the class would probably be all women and that he may feel uncomfortable as well as the women who attended and hinted that he might want to consider a different class.  In most ways, you could say I handle the situation fine but the outcome was not at all what I had hoped for.

The couple left.  Not just left my class … they left the church.  If I had to guess, I’d say they left angry.  Angry that they had made the effort to come.  Angry that they needed my class and didn’t feel welcomed.  Even though my intentions were right, they left angry.

What was suppose to be a light and fun evening quickly started off totally wrong.  I managed to somehow pull myself together enough to get things going.  The class went on, women came, women opened up, we passed the tissue box around on the first night!  It was great and I am absolutely looking forward to the next 11 weeks with this wonderful group of ladies, getting to know them and seeing God working in their lives.

Why did I share the story above?  Well…if you’ve read many of my recent posts, you know that God is really teaching me.  Sometimes, lessons are pretty hard to learn.  Sometimes we have to make mistakes to learn from them.  It’s like riding a bike, sometimes we have to fall before we learn to ride.

This morning, as I’m sitting in the Sunday service, listening to our pastor talk about the man that was born blind that Jesus healed, my thoughts went elsewhere and I thought about the couple from Wednesday night.  Sitting there in church, I kept thinking about what I could have done differently.  Did I really handle it the way I should have?

The answer was simple – it was NO!

I did not do anything wrong by the way I addressed this couple but that doesn’t mean I did it right either.  Perhaps instead of standing across the room and going on and on about how uncomfortable he and everyone else would be, instead of suggesting he go elsewhere, perhaps I could have first of all introduced myself.  I did not even introduce myself.  Here was the this couple I had never met before, in my class, and I didn’t even take the time to welcome them or introduce myself.  Secondly, I could have gone over to them and after introducing myself, I could have leaned in close to inform them that this was really suppose to be a women’s class, however, they were welcome to be there if they choose.  Basically, I could have shown them kindness and acceptance, even if it went against the rules I had placed on the class.

Proverbs 21:13  Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered.

Philippians 2:4  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

The thing is, we have encounters like this every day.  God is trying to speak to us and teach us new things every day.  I am so thankful that through this, I learned a very valuable lesson.  I learned to be still, to take the time to acknowledge people, to welcome them, to show them kindness.  I learned not to be so quick to react.  I learned that even when a choice seems right, that doesn’t make it the best choice.

How many times has God tried to teach me something and I failed to see?  How many times have I turned away from his lessons?

While I am so sad that this couple left and the weight is heavy knowing that I am the reason they left, I walk away thankful that through this difficult situation, God is teaching me and that I am able to see it, able to learn from it and hopefully it will prepare me to handle situations better in the future.  Let my mistake be your lesson!

And while you’re here, can I ask you to pray for me?  You see, because I allowed anxiety and fear take over, we failed to pray at all Wednesday night.  I did ask the class to keep the couple that left in their prayers, but I failed to pray for our class and I didn’t even take the time to ask someone else to pray.  I allowed fear to get in the way and that’s not what I want.  I know God has been preparing me for this and I know that it’s not about me, it’s about him.  Please pray for me, that he will use me and give me the words of prayer that my class needs.

 

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