Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanks-Giving

I sent a Thanksgiving Day e-mail to a group of friends this morning, but then I thought I would share it with you all:

This year, by God's grace, thanks-giving has been slowly becoming a way of life for me.  I am learning to see the gifts God has given in the every day, in the happy, in the sad.  Oh, it is easy to give thanks when all my children are behaving, when there is money in the bank account, when the van is running well, when the ministry God has given me is full of people, when people are kind and friendly, when I and those I love are healthy.  

However, the Bible says that thanks-giving is a sacrifice.  It is the sacrifice that I am slow to learn.  To give thanks while holding a precious baby girl who never took an earthly breath; to give thanks when friends cry and I have no answers to give; to give thanks when friends reject me; to give thanks in the midst of pain - physical or otherwise.

I could tell myself (and I have), "We've been hit with this sickness, but it could be much worse" or "While these one or two friends have walked away, look at the many who still love me," etc. - in essence, "focus on the positive rather than the negative."

While there is much truth to that, the giving of thanks in the hard times - for the hard times - is a sacrifice of particular sweetness.  Thanking Him for the grace we experience in loss, for the comfort only He can give in our hurt, for the realization of how truly precious the promise He makes that He will never leave or forsake me.  

At the same time, it is when I give thanks in the hard things - for the hard things - that my gaze comes around to the many, many truly lovely things He has placed in my life.  The health, the love, the provisions, the beauty, the grace, the forgiveness, the promises given and kept….OH! There's so 
much of the lovely!!!!!  It is in the sacrifice of praise that my mourning - whatever it may be - is 
turned into dancing. 

There is joy in thanks-giving.  May you all have a joyous Thanksgiving Day!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Growing Pains



Growing pains.  No matter what the growth, it often hurts.  But, growth proves life.

Physical growth - oh! how I remember a couple of my children actually crying as they told me their legs hurt…only to measure a couple of inches taller at their next doctor's appointment.  I remember knowing exactly when Michael was growing - except he grew crooked - as that is when his back pain would be at its worse.

Spiritual and emotional growth has its own pains, as well.  The pain is most often in the heart.  People hurt us, so we may grow in forgiveness.  Friends abandon us, so we may grow in dependence on God. Others fail us, so we may grow in thankfulness for God's faithfulness.

Growth comes in spurts.  The more growth done at one time, the more it hurts.  But, then we have a rest…before we start growing again.  The last two years for me has been a series of growth spurts…some much larger than others.  But, there have been times of rest in between.  Times when God allowed me to just enjoy Him and life and the growth that just occurred….while He prepared me for the next growth spurt just around the bend.

How much I feel I have grown this year.  I know because I have felt the pain.  I have yelled through it, cried through it, clamped my mouth tight through it.  I have sought to escape it in crowds and in solitude.  Yet, while I feel I have so much more growing to do (Lord, help me through the pain), I know I have grown.  My yelling has quieted.  I have accepted more, though, admittedly, not all.  I am slow to emerge back into the public, as that is where I am most vulnerable…but I am willing to do so holding on to the hand of my God.

I have learned that I need to follow what God wants me to do even if others don't understand and disagree.  I stay within the bounds of my husband and my God.  I have learned to not act without thinking, but to act with prayer and with the boldness God gives when He would have me act.  I am learning to deal with the repercussions with the grace only He can give.

I have lost a couple of friends this year. I am learning to let them go.  I am learning that, in truth, my life is more peaceful without them.  I hesitate to say it as it sounds so….spiteful; but, I have come to the place where I am content to move on without them. My life is peaceful without the tension, without the constant wondering if I did something to offend…again.  I know I have done what I could.  I have done all God has wanted me to do to restore - between them and me and between He and I.  I am at peace with that.  If there ever comes a time when they want my friendship again, I will freely give it, because I am learning to "forgive" (if they, indeed, need forgiveness) and I am very slowly learning to lay down my pride.

I continue to grow.  I continue to feel the pain, but the pain is subsiding. The benefits seem to be making themselves known.  I am more aware of God's goodness and grace than I ever have been.  I am more content being with my family and in my home.  I am more dependent on God than on people.  I am becoming more patient as I am not as quick to react.  I am learning to let go.

I am learning that growth is life….and I am so very grateful for the life I have.