Saturday, January 16, 2010

Gratitudes--January 16, 2010

You know, there are so many things I could say. I'm grateful for so much today--God's love, my church, my family, my friends, my needs being MORE than met, so many things. But when something like the Haiti earthquake happens and I watch people who were already poor suffering more than anyone should ever have to, I look at my life, my "needs", my "problems" and they seem so small and stupid. I whine about such ridiculous things.

This earthquake that happened and the aftermath that will continue for years to come make me stop and think about how selfish I am. If I didn't know where my next meal was coming from, where I would sleep at night, when I'd get water or when I'd see my loved ones again, would I still be grateful?

The people who struggle and who still have hope and a helping heart--those are the people I think are heroes. The people who find things to be grateful for, even though their lives have literally crumbled around them. I have seen (via my TV) people who have lost their homes and all of their belongings, but their family is still together--the thankfulness they express, just for the fact that they are alive, puts me to shame. How can I ever have an excuse NOT to be thankful? I can't.

I'm grateful for people who want to help. Seeing the outpouring of support going out toward Haiti is inspiring.

I'm grateful that I am alive.

I'm grateful that I have my family with me.

I'm grateful that I have a home and food and water.

I'm grateful for my health.

I'm grateful for my church family, who are close to being my REAL family.

I'm grateful that God has blessed me with the ability to help, even though I can't personally touch people in need.

I'm grateful that God opens my eyes sometimes, so I can see that I'm selfish and self-focused more than I'd like to admit. I can't imagine how I would cope in circumstances such as those happening this very moment on the streets of Port-au-Prince. God bless Haiti.

Father, bless Haiti with peace in the streets. Help the aid to get to them SOON. Help those who are still alive under the rubble to hold on and help the rescuers to come soon. Give them miracle rescues and miraculous recoveries from injuries. Help me to see my world realistically and help me out of my self-centered frame of mind. I want to be truly grateful, even more than I already am. Thank you, God, for showing me that life is about reaching out, not holding back.

My hope for all of you, my friends, is that you really take a look at your life and see how BLESSED you are. Do you have problems? Yes. But are your basic needs met? Yes. Despite your current circumstances, good or bad, allow your heart to be filled with the gratitude that comes from knowing how deeply blessed you are. Each moment of life is a gift and, if you learn nothing else from this disaster, remember that you don't know what will happen in the next moment, so hold on to life and LIVE it. Don't just simply exist. It's not about money. It's not about what you own. It's about the love in your life and the love that should flow OUT of your life.

How Could I Ask For More--Cindy Morgan

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Gratitudes--January 13, 2010

I have to get school started in a few minutes, but I wanted to take a little quiet graitutude time...

I'm grateful for:

Mid-January! Okay, I'm really trying hard with this one. I usually don't like January or February because it feels like a barren stretch of time between Christmas and springtime, but I am choosing to be grateful for what Winter means. The plants are resting underneath a blanket of snow. It's quieter outside. Everything feels clean and crisp. I am choosing to be grateful for this time because I usually find it a struggle to get through. Give thanks for everything, right?

Life. After watching video and interviews coming from Haiti about the tremendous earthquake they just had, I am so grateful that I have yet to experience such a shaking in my life. Every bit of the area that was hit (Port au Prince) including the people, the local infrastructure, the government, the businesses, the schools, everything has been "shaken" in some way or another and it will be a long road toward recovery for them. They were just coming out of the damage caused by the hurricanes 2 years ago and now this devastation. I am so grateful for my life, but I'm also grateful that I have the opportunity to support them in prayer and to, hopefully, find another way to help, as well.

Quiet time. In the last few days, I've tried to spend some time alone and it's been good for me to do so. I can sometimes get overwhelmed easily if I'm in the wrong frame of mind. Spending quiet time alone helps me to be more open to people, more open to God and more open (and kind) to myself.

Financial blessings for my friends and family! In the last week, I have seen three MAJOR financial blessings come to people I care about. I saw God bring a good thing out of a horrible situation, and I also saw God surprise people (my parents and my aunt) who all got an unexpected gift that was owed to them that they didn't even know about! I am so happy for them because this is an answer to prayer in each situation. God knows, people. He knows what you need. Sometimes the answer is "not right now", but that's because God knows the right timing. He has deep pockets, don't forget that.

Things working out. I've seen a few situations in the last few days work out better than imagined. They could have gone one way, but they didn't. If God gives you peace about something, it's probably because he's going to work it out...and if he gives you peace about something and it doesn't work out how you think it should, that's likely the reason he was giving you peace in the first place. :)

Every day is a new day. There are days where I'm just not proud of myself as a person, as a mother, as a wife. I know, though, that God gives new mercies for each day. He is the provider. He is the comforter. He is the one who knows my heart and loves me despite it. His mercies are new every morning and all we have to do is wake up and say, "God, I am grabbing hold of those new mercies." It's not about you trying to be a better person...if you do that on your own, you'll likely end up feeling like a failure at some point. All you have to do is realize that you belong to Him and He loves you more than anyone else on Earth ever has or ever will and HE will lead you through. He gives hope where there was hopelessness. He gives peace where there was strife. He trades you joy for your mourning. I'm so grateful that every day is a new day, and that God has new mercies for me when I open my eyes each morning.

My hope for you is that you realize that God wants to bless you. I see so many people who, when someone around them gets a financial blessing or a gift of some sort or a relationship working out, they grumble in their hearts (or even aloud) about how they haven't gotten theirs yet. That's the "orphan spirit" reacting. People who truly know that they are children of God are happy for those around them whom God is blessing and they don't grumble. They KNOW that God will bless them. They KNOW that God's desire is to give them hope and a future and they don't waver from that truth.

My hope is that you know, deep in your heart, that God loves you and that everything WILL work out in the end. Keep your attitude in check in the waiting time. Mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice. Your time is coming. Don't give up.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Gratitudes--January 7, 2010

I am thankful for:

Fluffy snow. It's perfect for a good sled ride. I had a great time sledding with my kids today. I, who hate snow and Winter, ventured into the cold to please my children. I ended up having more fun than they did, I think. It was worth the freezing, soaked jeans and the cold fingers inside my wet gloves.

A happy day. I am always thankful for happy days. I know that they outnumber the bad days and I'm grateful for that, most of all.

Freedom. There are days when I think about history and the things I've learned by studying it. I know that freedom comes at a price for any nation, race or culture. I am so grateful for the people who have gone before us and paved the way for the level of freedom that we have today. Before I exercise my "rights", I try to think about who made them possible. So many people died for my freedoms and I will never take that lightly.

Joy. It's different than happiness. For me, it's not easily lost, like happiness can be. Joy is something inside of me that is there whether or not I'm feel "happy". I have the joy of knowing that I am loved and accepted by God, the one who created me. There is no greater joy than that, even in moments where I allow my daily experiences to override my happiness. My joy will never be lost. There are many times where I question myself and my beliefs and why I truly hold the convictions that I do, but in the middle of those times of questioning, I don't lose my joy.

Standing. Life gets us down, all of us can say that we have experienced a knockout at the hand of our opponent at one time or another. However, I can say that learning to just stand when there's nothing else I can do has been a gift from God. Sometimes the standing comes before taking a big step, sometimes the standing comes in a period of waiting, sometimes the standing comes after making a wrong turn, but I have found that in those moments where I just stand, God gives me peace and lets me know that everything will be okay. I am grateful that I am learning just to stand and wait. In those times, God wants me to learn that HE is the one who gives me everything I need and I can do nothing without him...and everything WITH him.

My heart. God has changed my heart in so many ways. He's traded my "heart of stone for a heart of flesh". He's made all things new, as he's promised to do, and he continues to do so. I sometimes try to grab onto the old me and pull her up from the grave, but I've learned that there's a reason she's in that grave to begin with. The old me has passed away, ALL things are become new. My outlook on life. My emotions. My joy. My character. My convictions. My ability to hear God inside me. God has made my heart new.


Miracles. In most people's lives, miracles are small moments that they may not even recognize, but as I look back on my life (even at the young age of 34), I already see a whole life full of small me the sum of all of those small miracles is one GIANT miracle. I am alive. I am breathing. I have the ability to love and experience emotion. I have had a lifetime of experiences and decisions that have led me to exactly this moment, sitting on this couch and writing down my gratitudes. There are other galaxies and planets and moons spinning in the vastness of space. There are animals and organisms we humans have yet to see, even on our own planet. A tiny snowflake or a blade of grass is a work of art. We are all works of art, created by God in his image. We need to treat ourselves that way. Life itself is a miracle, so don't take it for granted.

You are a work of art, fearfully and wonderfully made by the one who loves you best. My hope for you is that you NEVER forget that. People joke about the fact that everyone is unique...but it's true. There is no one else on the planet exactly like you. There may be people with your hair color, skin color or some of your personality traits, but there has never before been someone like you and there never will be again. You are a blessing and there are things you have to offer to the world that no one before you has had and that no one after you will have. Remember that, when you're going about your daily life, when things seem kind of mundane. You are here for a purpose, whether you know that purpose right now or not.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Gratitudes--January 5, 2010

I'm grateful for...

Good kids. Yeah, they're rambunctious, but they're awesome and they're mine...for now (actually, they belong to God, but that's another story). They are nice to each other, except when they're not. They are curious, funny, loving, uberactive and a little crazy. I wouldn't have them be any other way.

Quality time. As some of you know, I'm a big fan of the "quality time" with my friends and family (thank you, Love Languages test). It's nice when I can get my QT tank filled.

It's Tuesday. For some reason, yesterday felt like Tuesday to me...not sure why. But I'm happy it's Tuesday and that I didn't miss a day somewhere in there.

2 Hour Delays...okay, I know they don't REALLY apply to us because we're doing cyber school, but I like them nevertheless. Hee hee...Yesterday, we had a "2 hour delay" and we ended up finishing school only an hour after we normally finish! So that's not bad at all. I like the flexibility of cyber school.

Liam's inquisitive nature. Yesterday, we were learning about volcanoes and why they erupt, where they are, etc. After the lesson, Liam said, "I wish we could see a real volcano!" So I took him to Google where he looked up volcano webcams and we found a site that has webcams on volcanoes all over the world! He's learning the idea of researching things he's interested in to find out more about them...I like that. And he's only in 1st grade!

Memories. Everyone has good and bad ones, but I'm happy to say that my good memories outnumber my bad ones. I find that most of my bad memories have to do with either anger or hurt, but even those have lost their sting in the light of the joy that I've found in life. My good experiences and memories are becoming more numerous than I could have ever imagined. God is good.

Evening trips to IKEA. Last night, we decided kind of on the spur-of-the-moment to head out there. My dad reminded me that they were having the silent auction on the display kitchens, so we went out in the blowing snow for a family trip to IKEA, which is about 35-40 minutes away. The kids LOOOOOOVE it there, so we had a good time. We bid on two kitchens, but I'm pretty sure we won't get them. Oh, well. Either way, it was a fun family evening.

Knowing Spring isn't TOO far away. I dread winter every year. This year, however, I'm trying to enjoy goes along with the whole "embracing every day" idea. However, I'm finding it hard to embrace the ridiculous cold, so I'm thinking of each day as another step toward Spring, my favorite season.

My hope for you is that you live in the present, but also keep looking forward to your "Spring". Keep your eyes on the fact that things WILL bloom in your life, but you sometimes have to just wait out the cold season. I have friends who are going through difficulties of varying types and I've been through some rough spots recently myself, but that doesn't change who God is. God has a purpose for each of us. Sometimes, though, waiting out the cold season means just holding on to the promises we have or just remembering that God has good things for us. Don't be afraid of the Winters in life because each day we wake up to Winter brings us one day closer to our blooming. Dormancy isn't death, it's a form of rest.