Tag Archives: blessings

Count It All?

I was cranky and crabby. I was full of self-pity and sadness. But Christmas was fast-approaching whether I was feeling festive or not.

I was so caught up in unanswered prayers that I had forgotten about the amazing number of answered prayers in my life.

It was time to make a list. Time to count my blessings.

The list flowed effortlessly right away. A relationship with Jesus topped the list. Family, friends and the numerous personality traits and gifts they bring to our lives filled figurative pages of that list. (Side note: As a new grandma, I could easily dedicate a chapter of blessings to our new grandson alone!) Experiences, sweet gestures, people who have impacted me, family vacations, church families, homes, jobs, physical health, caring communities, and the list continued…

After the obvious blessings were tallied, a Bible passage came to mind; “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4

Count it all? All of it? Let me get this straight…On my list of blessings, I am supposed to count the trials? I quickly asked God, “Don’t You get that the point of this list is to get trials off of my mind?” (As if He sometimes doesn’t “get” things, and I have to explain…)

The more I thought about it, the more I realized, God “got it” just fine. He completely grasped the fact that I was thankful when things went my way, when my life looked the way I pictured it, and when I did not have to persevere through tests of faith. He also “got” that I was missing out on a major truth. Our trials produce a perseverance in us that help us become who God is trying to mold us into. And becoming that person that He created us to be (the person that uses their God-given abilities, gifts, and personality traits to show who He is, to a world that is in desperate need of Him) is why we are here on this earth.

As James says, perseverance through difficult times will produce a life that is “lacking in nothing.” A person who is living that type of life counts it all when they compose a blessing list.

From now on, when I approach God with a prayer request, I refuse to allow an attitude of, “Look at what I’m lacking, Lord” to be my theme. My new goal is to recognize the truth that I already have all I need, and that I can choose to find joy in trials.

As the song says, “Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done! Count your blessings, name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.”

And surprise me He did. Once I began counting, He lengthened my list and mended my mindset.

Friend, if you are looking at what you are lacking in life, I encourage you to instead start making your blessing list. Soon you will discover you are “lacking in nothing.”

Count your many blessings. Count them all!

Philippians 4:19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus

Originally posted on devotableapp.com

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A Beautiful Blessing

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Have you ever received an encouraging message at the exact moment you needed it? It happened to me recently. This particular day, I was allowing my negative emotions dictate how I felt about not only the day, but also how I felt about myself. I have always struggled with putting too much stock in unkind comments or comments that I interpreted as unkind. Those comments cause a feeling of rejection in me…which is a trait that happens to be on my list of “I-totally-need-to-work-on-that” qualities.

Filled with an unhealthy dose of self-pity, I walked outside to retrieve our mail. In our mailbox was a handwritten note from a dear friend. (By the way, how many people actually handwrite notes nowadays? How cool is that?) On the outside of the card was a beautiful print. The beauty of the words on the inside of that card had an immediate effect on how I was feeling on the inside!

It was a sincere note of gratitude to me and to God for our friendship. I walked back in the house with a new outlook. I guess you now know how changeable my emotions can be! I’ll be honest: sudden mood changes seem to be a part of my wiring. (Okay, add that to the aforementioned list.) Well-timed, beautiful words took my focus off of feeling sorry for myself and put it back where it belonged: on God and how much He loves us.

When it comes to my mind to thank someone or to share words of admiration with someone, I try not to delay! When you sense a prodding to extend gracious words to others, I encourage you to grab a card and start writing, grab a phone and start texting, or grab a chair and start visiting face-to-face. A conversation that seems fleeting or inconsequential to us might be the same words that replay in their mind when they are in need of a boost in their morale.

I am certain you can think of times in your life when someone has said (or typed or written) beautiful words to you at just the right time. One of the many wonderful attributes of our Holy Spirit is His impeccable timing; He nudges us to extend encouragement to others right when they need it the most.

Proverbs 25:11 brings beautiful images to mind. The Message version says, “The right word at the right time is like a custom-made piece of jewelry.” In the New King James version, it reads, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” The right words said at the right time to the right person can certainly be thought of as beautiful, just as a custom-made piece of jewelry or golden apples in settings of silver would.

Let us join together in praying that we become more sensitive to our Holy Spirit’s prompting to encourage others with uplifting messages. What a blessing to add beauty to the lives of others!

Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad. Proverbs 12:25

(This post appeared on LiftUpYourDay.com today. Check that site out for daily encouragement!)

 

Only One Said, “Thank You”

When our children are small and they receive a gift or some sort of treat, what do we almost always hear ourselves say? When my children were little and were standing there with a new treasure, I remember saying, “What do we tell them?” or “What do we say?” to avoid any awkward, empty silence that should be filled with a sincere, “Thank you.”

The story of the ten lepers in the Bible has always aroused my curiosity. I remember the flannel-graph version when I was a child sitting in a Sunday School room in a small, red rounded-back children’s chair. I remember reading a devotion based on it when I was older. And I remember just recently being reminded of this story found in Luke 17, when a long-time prayer in my life was answered and I went about my day without even murmuring a quick, “Thank you” to God.

When my prayer request was granted in a wonderful way, I felt relief, excitement, and joy. Somehow, however, my mind skimmed right over thankfulness.  When I realized I had forgotten to thank God, the picture of the ten lepers jumped right into my mind.  Out of ten completely healed and restored men, only one came back and knelt at Jesus’ feet in gratitude for healing him of this horrible, life-changing disease.

The Message version says, “He kneeled at Jesus’ feet, so grateful. He couldn’t thank Him enough.” The Living Bible version says, “He fell flat on the ground in front of Jesus, face downward in the dust,” and the New International Version says, “He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him.” Genuine appreciation is definitely sensed when the one receiving a gift is face-down, kneeling at your feet!

In Luke 17:17, Jesus asks where the other nine healed men are. He speaks about it with grace; in the only way Jesus would. If I were Jesus, I would most likely be saying, “Did that just happen? I miraculously made those men whole again. Did nine of them seriously go on their merry way without even a wave or a smile in my direction?”

There is a humility and a sincerity that is expressed in the simple two-word phrase that we work so hard to try to teach our children to say without reminders. “Thank you,” may seem like two simple words, but the impact made by those two words is not simple.

I am sure that you can think of a time when you felt especially validated after someone took the time to thank you for something you did or said. I am also sure that you can think of a time that you felt your kindness was taken advantage of when there was no ‘thank you’ offered.

If gratitude has been absent in your life, it is never too late to count your blessings and give thanks to others and most importantly to the ‘Ultimate Blesser’!  God is so very worthy of hearing a sincere, heart-felt “Thank You” from us. Let us take our cue from the one healed leper who knelt at His feet and could not ‘thank Him enough.’

Lord, we realize that all good gifts come from You. We thank You and we praise Your holy name. May we never take the blessings You give us for granted. Even more importantly, may we never take You for granted. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.

 

 

 

 

4th post on Momspuration.com

This is a while after the fact,  but you can still head on over to momspuration.com and check out my blog post that was posted on May 9th!

It is titled, “Setting the Tone,” and here is an excerpt:

In 1820, Fanny Crosby was born. At the age of six, because of a doctor’s mistake, she became blind. The difficult circumstances that were thrust upon her could have caused her to be bitter and to complain about what she did not have. However, this woman of God wrote over 8000 hymns and is quoted as saying, “It seemed in­tend­ed by the bless­ed prov­i­dence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank him for the dis­pen­sa­tion. If per­fect earth­ly sight were of­fered me to­mor­row I would not ac­cept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of God if I had been dis­tract­ed by the beau­ti­ful and in­ter­est­ing things about me.” How is that for a positive perspective? Instead of complaining, she wrote praises to God. And instead of praising Him in spite of her blindness, she actually praised Him for it. She forever blessed the world by sharing her praise of her Heavenly Father in hymns such as, “Blessed Assurance” and “Near the Cross.”

Check out Kristen Mitchell’s site, momspuration.com! You will be encouraged! As always, I would love to hear from you!

Too Weary or Worried to Worship?

Do you ever walk into your church service begrudgingly? Maybe your week didn’t go as planned, or you just received bad news, or you are engaged in a seemingly never-ending battle with a person or condition in your life.

Do you ever choose to stay in bed instead of walking through those sanctuary doors? Maybe avoiding the potential unwelcome greetings or “hey, how are yous” seems more inviting than facing them and having to possibly come up with a phony reply or worse yet, answer honestly!

Many Sundays, I am the worship leader in our church. I am expected to help ‘usher’ the congregants to the throne of the King of the Kings in a time of worship and song. Sometimes I am not ‘feeling it.’ There, I said it. Sometimes I have had a bad week, or I or one of my family members have suffered a huge disappointment. And openly worshipping God is not number one on my priority list. There, I said that too.

I realize that I sound like I sometimes worship God based on my life circumstances instead of basing it on Who He is. That would be true at times. It is also something I am working hard to remedy.

I shared this on my Gwen Thielges Music Facebook page a few months ago:
“Something I’ve experienced through leading music in our church: When things are going ‘right’ in my life, and I go to church with praise on my tongue, it’s easy to be in front and encourage a congregation to lift up the name of Jesus in song. When things are not so much ‘right’ in my life…it’s hard. But it is always, always rewarding. It never fails that God speaks to me through the worship time on those tough mornings and gets my heart prepared for the rest of the service. He reminds me of His faithfulness, His plan, and the fact that He sees me and hears me. And most of all, I’m reminded of His love. If God cares that some insignificant-feeling, middle-aged mama in North Dakota is feeling down…then my friend, He cares about and loves us all! And He wants us to know that we know that we know that we are loved beyond description. I just want to encourage you this morning to sing a song of praise whether you ‘feel’ like it or not. You’ll be blessed. God WILL show up.”

May I encourage you to do better with this than I do? I am not saying we should worship God even when we do not ‘feel’ like it just because He will show up. I am saying we should worship God even when we do not ‘feel’ like it simply because He is worthy of our worship, adoration, and gratefulness no matter what!

He has a master design for our lives – and our disappointments, battles, scars, and sadness all somehow, in only a way that a God that is as awesome as He is can do it, add to the beauty in the tapestry He is weaving in our lives. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” What a promise to remind us that He is working in the lives of those who love Him through all the details. It is a reminder that we can trust Him through the difficult times for results that bring glory to Him. We can trust Him enough to say, “I choose to put my eyes on You, God, rather than my life’s circumstances.” When our eyes are on Him, we can’t help but notice that we are in the presence of a God that deserves enthusiastic, extravagant worship.

May we remember that worshipping our Heavenly Father is an all-the-time opportunity, not just a 20-minute Sunday morning opportunity right before the sermon. Psalm 29:2 says, “Honor the LORD for the glory of his name. Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.”

May our lives show Jeremiah 29:13 to be true, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”

Come, let us seek Him with our whole hearts and worship Him through the weariness and worry. He is worthy. Bonus: He WILL show up!

No one I would rather write my story with

IMG_4308This man. I love him more than I ever thought I could. Okay – that’s corny, but I remember literally thinking on our wedding day, “How could I possibly love him more than I do today?”

For our wedding, I wrote a song entitled, “In His Plan” thanking God for creating us with each other in mind. A year ago, I wrote a new song for him in which the chorus begins with these lyrics: “There’s no one I would rather write my story with.” Ours has been my favorite love story thus far complete with four kids that I, with much self-admitted bias, find to be quite amazing.

I love that I get to parent side-by-side with him and watch him be a dad to those four amazing kids. He teaches our sons to be Godly men and models it as well. He treats our daughter like a princess, and is doing a good job of making it difficult for her to ever find a guy that compares to her father! He is an extremely wise man. Maybe more of a ‘wise guy’ sometimes…but his kids are truly blessed to have a father that they can go to anytime for wise advice. And they can go to him for so much more: assurance, assistance, allowance 😄, and most of all, unconditional love.

I love that he plays a lot of roles in his life, and he does it to the best of his ability while being principled and loyal. Roles such as husband, father, insurance agent/owner, coach, and more. As his wife, I can attest that his dedication to each role is second to none.

So is his ability to drive me crazy, and I’ve never hidden that fact from him! Being married for over 23 years gives a married couple many opportunities to do and say things that get on each other’s nerves. And although I could sometimes swear that some of his choices are made just to bug me, through the years I’ve come to respect the manner in which he approaches his endeavors. In other words, there may be times when I don’t agree with or even like a particular choice, but I certainly admire him for having well-thought-out reasons for his decisions and genuinely trying to make the decisions that best serve his family, friends, basketball players, and customers…depending on which hat he’s wearing for that particular decision. And when we face the numerous types of decisions that we must make together, we’ve developed a pretty darn respectful-of-each-other’s-views process that we go through.

I love that he’s a ‘Jesus-first. Family-second. All-else-third.’ type of guy. I love that he kisses me goodbye every morning before work. I love that I get to listen to him sing with the radio while I fake-sleep in the car. I love that he has a slightly weird obsession with the upkeep of our yard. I love that he loves to cook and grill and try new recipes. I love that we both love spending time together, and that we still make each other laugh like no one else does. I love that we’ve tackled some tough marriage and parenting issues together, and it’s brought us closer to each other instead of driving us apart. I love that we start many days off by praying with each other. Nothing helps someone see inside the heart of their spouse like seeking God’s will together in prayer. I love that he’s a man of integrity, that he’s a hard-worker, that he’s gorgeous, and that he’s mine. I love that God created us with each other in mind.

I’m assuming he will continue to sometimes drive me crazy until the end of time. To be perfectly honest, I’m good with that, because there’s no one I would rather write my story with. Good, bad, and crazy chapters and all.

 

Jesus Prayed for Unity

IMG_5737Jesus Christ prayed to His Heavenly Father for unity.

John 17:20b-23 reveals that unity in the body of Christ was one of His most heartfelt desires! “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

If Christians agree on the major things: how we get to heaven, how we become more like Jesus, and how we treat others accordingly…then can we please quit bickering about the minor things? Can we stop the condescending social media posts? How about not stirring the pot with inconsequential controversial subjects that can be easily misinterpreted and misunderstood? If we’re supposed to strive to be like Jesus, (and yes, that is exactly what we are supposed to strive toward. Come on people, that’s one of the ‘majors’), then talking about or to a fellow Christian in a patronizing manner should not even be a possibility! If we engage in behavior that brings about division in the body of Christ, then we are conducting ourselves in direct conflict with Jesus’ very own prayer!

There have been some ‘minor’ concepts that I have seen Christians attack each other for just recently: ‘Which version of the Bible do we read?’ If we get asked that question at the pearly gates, and we say anything other than King James, I’m 100% sure that we’ll be allowed to stay. I believe getting to know Him through His Word is so much more important to Him than which version we use to do it. I also think that the Holy Spirit is really, really good at orchestrating the way in which the Word is received and taken in. That Holy Spirit…He is great at His job. Let Him do it. What about the age-old crisis of whether we sing hymns, praise choruses, or a healthy mixture of both during our worship services? I firmly believe that God loves it when we worship Him. Period. He loves to hear us bless His name in song, and His concern is not whether we do it in a modern, traditional, upbeat, or not-upbeat sort of way. His concern is if we worship Him with sincerity. We do sing for Him, about Him, to Him, and of HIM, not us, right? Right? If you can’t ‘get’ in the worship ‘mood’ because the music isn’t your style…then you, my friend, should look into the true meaning of worship. It’s not about you.

Other issues on the minor list, such as drinking an occasional glass of wine, getting a tattoo, immersion vs. sprinkling, listening to heavy-metal music, and going to an rated-R movie can all be points of division, and maybe your thoroughly-thought-out reasons that you are for or against these hot-topics are worth fighting for, in your opinion.

Then again, maybe arguing with someone about a minor point in Christianity, even while using your well-thought-out rationales, would be in complete opposition to what your Savior desires…

If you want to ‘judge’ on the clear ones…like whether Jesus died on a cross, rose again, and whether our soul’s eternal destination depends on our decision to accept His gift of eternal life…go for it. I will go to my grave defending God and His brilliant plan. After all, His plan of salvation is what we are put on this earth to share with others.

But the minor ones? Let’s keep them that way. Let us celebrate our similarities with other Christians and spend time worshipping our awesome God together in unity! And then, because we are Christians that pursue harmony with other Christians, we’ll be an answer to Jesus’ prayer. Wow. We can be a part of an answer to Jesus’ prayer. Did I say, “wow” yet? What a blessing it is when we help in bringing about what Jesus prayed for.