Tag Archives: Rejoice

Beyond Thankful…

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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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A Good Bad Day

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This is follow up from a post I wrote a few days ago.  Check it out here.

Too often, I stuff my feelings in order to protect myself or those around me from uncomfortable topics and emotions.

In my previous post on this topic, I mentioned that sometimes I just want to be able to share, to get some of that out.

While there have been many times I could have used a shoulder to cry on I an ear to hear, realistically, it’s not always or even often available. With that said, how do we get through the tough times without feeling like a burden to others?

I am learning that turning to God in everything, praise or problem, is key in my life.

Philippians 4:6  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Even though there have been people in my life I could have turned to in tough moments, I have always worried about becoming a burden or pushing them away with my baggage.  I’m slowly learning that it’s okay to open up but even more so, I’m learning how to turn to God in those moments when my heart is so heavy.

Scripture, prayer and music have all been huge in my life in recent years.

Music has always had a huge part in my life.  Anytime I was feeling down, I would drown myself in songs that I could relate to, songs that poured out the same feelings I was feeling, songs that made me feel like I was not alone.  I clung to the lyrics and played them over and over.  On a side note, many times the music I chose reflected the world I was in which was not always good.  While it left me feeling like I wasn’t alone, I see now my choices in music weren’t always the best choices and sometimes fueled my negative thoughts and feelings.  I’m a big believer in garbage in = garbage out (just ask my kids how many times I’ve used that on them, lol!) and am very thankful so many Christian artists are out there now.  You can find music in any style – hip hop, rap, country, normal – in Christian music.  It’s refreshing!

Prayer has not always been an easy one for me.  I have always prayed but I admit, I’ve gone through moments of doubt and have asked questions like, “If God knows everything, why do we need to pray?”, “Why would God want to listen to me?” and “Will my prayers really make a difference?”.  Some days, I still battle those questions but I do believe prayer is important.  I believe it’s one way for us to build/grow in our walk with Christ.  I believe God uses prayer as a way to keep us connected to him.  When we pour out our hearts in prayer, we are seeking him.  When we fail to pray, we are trying to do too much of the work on our own.

Scripture is a tool.  Did you know that?  It’s not just pretty little letters typed into a nice leather bound book.  It’s history, it’s real peoples lives, it’s their stories, their trials, their triumphs.  It’s the emotions they felt, the mistakes they made, the faith they held tight to, the distress and loss, and so much more.  There is really nothing I could face today that I couldn’t find similar responses or emotions to in the Bible.  Every time I have looked a particular subject up, I have found verses that encourage me, words that speak to me, stories that that I can relate to.  Scripture is a tool for when you are weary, hurting, in need of encouragement, hope, peace, to strengthen your faith, give you courage, guide your steps, bring light to your life and so much more.

I haven’t always had a lot of friends.  I still don’t have a lot, but the ones I do have, I love with all my heart.  I put 110% into those cherished relationships and my heart aches for the friendships that have passed.  When someone takes the time to accept me, get to know me and love me just for being me, that means the world to me.  The thing is, to be a great friend back, I can’t put unreasonable expectations on them.  I can’t expect them to be here for me every waking hour.  I can’t expect them to drop everything and rush to my side every time I feel sad or down.  I can’t expect them to know the right words to say all the time or to read my mind.  Sure, they may want to do those things at times, but to expect that from anyone would just be too much.

That’s where God comes in.  He is available anytime, any day, any place.  All he wants is for us to come to him.  If that’s in prayer, then I pray.  If that’s through Scripture then I soak myself in his words.  If that’s through music, then I crank up some Casting Crowns, Third Day or my current favorite, Rhett Walker Band.

He has never failed me.  I have failed him.  I have turned away from him.  I have been angry, doubted his love and concern for me but he has never failed me.

Psalm 118:24  This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Psalm 136:1  Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever.

 

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