Tag Archives: blessings

Thankful

Thankful: My Journey Through Psalm (100)

How appropriate that I would land on Psalm 100 for this week of Thanksgiving. The more years I spend on this Earth the more I realize just how blessed I am to be the person I am in the house I own in the city I chose at the church I freely worship in the body God gave me.

That was a lot of prepositional phrases. Sheesh.

All true.

A few years ago I started a gratitude journal. In theory, this journal should be filled 10x by now with all the things I am grateful for, but I have a really bad habit of not recording things about me. I know, stupid, right? A writer who struggles to write about herself? Is that irony? Not sure, but it is true. I have had the hardest time journaling in my life. I’ve tried. Usually, I do well for…3 days. Then I don’t pick up the journal again for, oh…a year? Then I start all over again. I think that’s why I only blog once a week at maximum too. Writing about myself is just…hard. I’ve hidden behind fiction nearly my entire life, so focusing on my reality, well it’s just not as easy for me as it is for other people. Anyway, back to the point. I have this gratitude journal where I have systematically been recording things I am grateful for. Lists help. Boy do I LOVE LISTS. Here are some of my favorites:

6. Nieces’ giggles through the phone line

10. The smell of freshly baked bread

12. Keyboard clicks breaking the silence of a room

 

182. A good pair of jeans

257. A dead phone

261. Light in the dark places

 

292. Unexpected sources of income when you need it the most

 

343. A well-lit room

348. Daffodils outside my house and window

360. The words “Answer to a prayer”

361. Gut feelings that turn out to be God-feelings

375. The swishing sounds of a washing machine at work

381. Reading letters from old friends

400. Answers

And trust me, there are a lot more. This is just a sampling, but as I read back through it I realize just how telling it is about my life over the past few years. And very Psalm-esque. My gratitude journal has become the echoing poem of my life. And I think that is a lot more beautiful than three days here and there telling about what happened to me that day. And it makes me want to “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, and worship with gladness (V.1)” because I have so many things to be grateful for. My life is good. My life is beautiful. My life belongs to the Lord.

So here is my challenge to you. Start a gratitude journal…or if you’re like me and journals are hard, just start a list. Keep going. I was inspired by a book, 1000 Gifts (find it here on Amazon), and it’s a beautiful step forward to “Entering his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise (v.4)”. Because Thanksgiving is not the only day we should count our blessings.

Waiting…SUCKS! (My journey through Psalms: 40-41)

Let’s be real. Waiting just sucks sometimes. But that doesn’t negate the fact that sometimes not only do we HAVE to wait, but it’s actually for the best that we do.

When I was a kid I wanted SO BADLY to go to the Backstreet Boys concert (yes, I will always have a special place in my heart for BB. 90s boy bands. Yes.) I thought that if I didn’t get to go, my life would be o-v-e-r. One by one I watched all my friends go to a concert–it wasn’t fair. Why couldn’t I be one of the lucky ones? So I did the only thing I could. I…waited.

Until one day, one magical day, I got THE phone call.

We got the tickets! My aunt and Uncle had waited forever, called in favors, begged, pleaded and filly they landed tickets for my special birthday surprise. And you know what? The concert was special for a number of reasons. It was a surprise. It was a gift from special people (my aunt, uncle, mom and dad). And because I waited.

I know what my parents had to sacrifice to get me there and to make my little teeny bopper dream come true. I wasn’t disappointed, but more importantly I was even more grateful because of the waiting.

If my aunt, uncle, mom and dad will do something that special just to make my little heart shine, how much more will my Heavenly Father turn is omniscient eyes to my longings? My desires mean more to him than they do to my parents. I know that calling out to Him sometimes feels like it takes too much energy, that maybe even He’s stopped listening. But I remind myself that just because I asked my parents over and over and over for the same thing, it doesn’t mean they stopped listening to me. Or even that they don’t care. Sometimes as much as they want to give me everything my heart desires…they can’t.

God has power to grant my wishes, but he’s not a genie. Sometimes he doesn’t answer because it is what is best for me in the end. He knows more than I do. He sees more than I do. He wants to give me the desires of my heart, but sometimes He can’t because what I want isn’t in my best interest, or even the best interest of those around me.

My parents did a pretty good job raising me. They didn’t give me everything I ever asked for, but when they did say no–I learned a valuable lesson: you are not the center of the universe. No sometimes is better than yes. And waiting…waiting will teach you to value and honor a gift in more ways than being granted that desire really ever can.

Which is why I can see the parallels and understand how waiting can be a good thing.

Even when it sucks.

Because “Blessed is the [wo]man who makes the Lord his [or her] trust and many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done” 40: 4a; 5a)

Battling Each Day: Psalm 35-36

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Every day is battle of some kind and every day we must make a conscience choice about who is going to fight our battles. I have an independent streak that is a mile high and a country mile long. I hate, hate, hate asking people for help because my pride says that I should be able to do it all on my own.

That’s stupid.

Most of the time when I am pulling inward saying, “No, I got this,” there are several people pushing from the outside and begging me to let them in and let them help.

Because people rarely feel put out when you are genuine about needing help. They are actually begging to help because they love use. They love me and they want to do whatever they can to make my journey an easier one.

So David, a great and mighty warrior, calls out to God for help and vengeance. It’s not a sign of weakness, but one of honor and humility. If people genuinely want to help us succeed, then how much more does God desire that we call out to him?

I find a lot of hope in the idea of an equal opportunity God who listens to ALL who call to him–not just great an mighty warriors. Our world is so full of Inequality and hatred and scorn that pure, simple acceptance is a concept many of us cannot even fathom let alone accept.

Categories are only useful when organization is meant to be efficient, but when it is used to degrade and inform people they are not worthy to be accepted or MUST be in a certain place because of certain pre-conceived ideas, that’s when we move into a flawed system. I have been privileged most of my life and as such have not experienced unadulterated hate, racism or discrimination as some people in this world have. That is not to say that my life is perfect, because I have experience my fair share of unkindness solely based on my family (or lack thereof), status, accent, or gender. And each of these incidents resulted in a deep soul wound, emotional scarring that over the years I’ve taken and laid at the fee t of the only person who is truly all accepting.

But I fought against a lot of things to get to that point. Pride, hatred, self-doubt, etc.

“Both high and low among me find refuge in the shadow of your wings” the Psalms declare and I rest there–healing as the Lord protects, guides, and fights for me. Preparing me for the world and whatever blessings or trials may come next because the Lord is good and his love truly endures forever.

 

Strongholds: Psalm 27-28; 30-31 (My journey through Psalms)

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Many of us struggle with different strongholds in our lives–sometimes we don’t even realize they’ve become a stronghold until something rather significant knocks us on our rear-end and we’re left staring up at the sky wondering what happened. When all along, it wasn’t what happened at that moment, but what had been festering inside us all along, growing stronger. Something we simply chose not to deal with, or thought we could ignore, or believed wasn’t a big deal. Or worse, thought we could handle on our own.

But strongholds are, in fact, strongholds because we CAN’T handle them on our own and until we hand them over to Jesus and make him the ONLY stronghold in our life (Psalm 27:1), we’ll continue to lay on our backside staring at the sky and wondering.

So why do we hold on to strongholds like bitterness, pride, fear, anger, lust, all these things that bring so much pain?

I think it’s because despite the pain, it has become comfortable. Letting go is scary. It’s like in an action-adventure movie where the hero and heroine are hanging off of some kind of cliff or something and swinging back and forth. You can tell at any moment the hero is going to lose his grip and drop the woman into the pit, but then he says ‘do you trust me’? and the woman is sitting there, hanging over that pit thinking ‘dude, I just met you, why on Earth do you think I would trust you?’ But she really doesn’t have any choice. And in that moment she knows he is going to let her go and she has to decide if she trusts him enough to let go or if she wants to hang on–in pain, but where she still feels the comfort of being held.

Inevitably, when the hero lets her go, she falls to some safe little nook. Like it was made just for her in this time of crisis, but if she had held on she might have fallen straight into the pit.

Our strongholds are the same way. We want to hang on because it seems like that is safe. It’s what we know, but if we keep holding on we’re going to fall into the pit. If we let go and let God drop us into a nook of grace, that’s where true grace begins to change and envelop us.

That is not to say that Christians don’t struggle with strongholds. Believe me, they do. And sometimes they’re holding on just as tight as the next guy. BUT the difference is the ultimate STRONGHOLD is there to BREAK the defenses of these other things (Psalm 28:1). And even if we do fall into the pit, he is there to pull us back out again. Because he is always willing to redeem us. It’s all a part of his infinite mercy and grace.

So, do you trust him? Then LET GO!

 

Forgetting our Fears Psalm 24-26

My niece is very profound. The other day she was talking to her mom and spouted some profound theology.

“So Mom, I was thinking about what you read about people wanting to stay in darkness and I thought why would they want to do that? Then I thought about how when you first wake up and the light hurts your eyes. I think they are scared to go because it hurts a little. We have to help them see that the light is better after you get used to it.”

Bailey is only six years old, but she understands human nature better than some people who have PhDs in psychology. In the end it all boils down to giving in to our fears or overcoming them with righteous and divine guidance

The Earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it. For He founded it on the seas and established it on the waters. Psalm 24:1

There is a reason why the most common command in the Bible is “FEAR NOT”. We often allow our fears to keep us from becoming our GENUINE selves.

Guard my life and rescue me, do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. Psalm 25:20

Unfortunately tough we may forget form time to time, life isn’t about us. We live in a narcissistic, self-promoting society, but that’s not who we are made to be and it’s amazing how many of our fears would melt into obscurity if we would deny ourselves and focus on what we were truly created to become.

My feet stand on level ground, in the great congregation I will praise the LORD. Psalm 26:2

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