IT IS ENOUGH

We have written much about our Mom and Grandmother Johnson lately. Obviously she had a good influence on us all the days of her life.  During the last couple years of her illness Mom shared with me often about waking up in the morning with a Christian song in her mind and heart.  Many times we would sing it together; sometimes it was such an old one from her childhood that I did not know it.  She even wrote those hymns or choruses down each day.  I am blessed with the gift of music in my head like Mom and her sister, Norma, sometimes so much that it is there in the middle of the night!

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There is a hymn we sang at church that has stayed with me the last two weeks.  One phrase in particular repeats over and over in my head…”It is enough that Jesus died, and that He died for me.”

I know that those of you who are much younger than I, or that have not grown up in a church that sings the old hymns could not possibly know this song.  The new songs are great and I have them in my head and heart too, but most of the old hymns have so much good doctrine in the words that I am sorry you may be missing out on them!

Anyway, the point is today that we all go through difficult times.  Life is hard.  God did not promise life on this sinful earth would be easy.  God did promise that He would guide and direct us “through it all” (another great song by Andre Crouch). The point is that no matter what – it is enough, it is enough that Jesus, my Savior died for my sins, and that He lives and is preparing an eternal home for me.  How awesome and humbling is that?  No one, or no circumstance can take that away from me!!!

If you do not know Him and the power of His resurrection, I pray that as you read this you will ask Him to be your Savior.  It is so easy!  Our human minds try to figure out God, His Son, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.  Don’t go there, it’s not possible!  Just accept that it is enough that Jesus died for you.

     MY FAITH HAS FOUND A RESTING PLACE

1/ My faith has found a resting place, not in device nor creed; I trust the Everlasting One, His wounds for me shall plead.  

2/ Enough for me that Jesus saves, this ends my fear and doubt; A sinful soul, I come to Him, He’ll never cast me out. 

3/ My heart is leaning on the Word, the written Word of God; Salvation by my Savior’s name, salvation thru His blood.

4/ My great Physician heals the sick, the lost He came to save; For me His precious blood He shed, for me His life He gave.

 Chorus/ I need no other argument, I need no other plea; It is enough that Jesus died, and that He died for me.

Words: Lidie H Edmonds,  1891     Music: Norwegian Folk melody, 1891

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PURE JOY!!!

“The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” Psalm 126:3

One evening last May, my little godson Matthew called me to ask if he could have his 6th birthday party at my house – a dance party! You see, I am an “auntie” to a lot of my friends’ kids since I don’t have any of my own. All of them like to visit Auntie Kristin’s house because I have a cool basement filled with disco lights, electronic drums, bongo drums, games and DJ equipment with big speakers – and my buddy Matt is no exception.

Well, of course I said yes, and told Matt that we could plan a disco dance party at my house and he could invite all his friends. He started designing invitations that day. The funny thing was, he had over 5 months to wait until his birthday in October! This fact did not dampen his excitement, so the countdown began.

FINALLY, the day of the party arrived! I had spent many, many hours planning and preparing my house for a flock of tiny people to come have fun and go crazy! I was so excited and proud of what Matt’s Mom and I had done to prepare. I couldn’t wait for Matt to arrive and see what I had created JUST FOR HIM! I did all of it just because I love him so much and wanted to see him enjoy his big day with his friends!

Matt’s family arrived early before the guests. I was outside in the back yard setting up tables and chairs. Once the car parked I assumed Matt would see that I was in the back and that he would come straight to me. However, he hopped out and ran to the front door, which I had left unlocked. I quickly went back into the basement hoping to meet him when he came down the stairs to the party room.

As soon as I got inside, Matt burst through the other door and there we were, just the two of us. I already had all the lights on and some music playing. The disco ball was spinning, and birthday decorations were everywhere!

He looked around and took it all in, then he began hopping and clapping and squealing with glee! He ran to me and jumped into my arms, bear-hugging me and whispering, “THANK YOU AUNT KRISTIN” in my ear.

It was a special, intimate moment I will never forget. The pure joy and gratitude of a 6-year-old boy who knew I loved him so much that I would go to any lengths to provide him with the birthday party of his dreams.

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Isn’t this how we should be every day when we see what our Father God has created for our pure enjoyment?

God loved us so much that He sent His only Son to die and give us life. And beyond that, look at the beautiful earth He created for us to inhabit! We tend to get complacent about the everyday – a shining warm sun, green trees, flowers, lakes and streams, animals, food and clean water, family, a job – the air we breathe and a beating heart every morning we wake up.

Webster’s defines Joy as: the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires; delight; the expression or exhibition of such emotion; bliss; enjoyment.

Psalm 19:1 “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”

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

James 1:17 “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

Take a look around today, soak it all in, and JUMP FOR JOY into your Heavenly Father’s arms, expressing your deep gratitude for His gifts to you. He not only provides enjoyment for you on this earth, but He has also prepared for you a boundless eternal home as well. His love for you is overwhelming, unconditional and limitless! Unbridled joy and gratitude is appropriate!

1 Corinthians 2:9 “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.”

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The Lord Will Provide

MEMORIES…they can be hurtful or delightful. As I get older, my mind is often filled with memories of the past.

I was a depression kid. My father, a farmer turned city boy, worked for small wages that were never enough to pay the bills and feed his growing family of 6 kids. But never despairing, I can hear him sing, “I’m a child of the King, A child of the King. With Jesus my Savior, I’m a child of the King….”

My Mother, too, was not one to let her circumstances control her. I fondly remember an event that happened in my early school years:

We always came home from school for lunch. One day when we got home, Mom seemed to have nothing to feed us. She sat us down at the table, with nothing before us. Just then, we heard a knock at the door. We children sat still, while our Mother went to the door. There stood a man with a large loaf of bakery bread in his hands. He represented a new bakery in the community, and was handing out FREE samples!

bread

My Mother came back to us, her face beaming. Holding aloft the bread, she said, “The Lord will provide.”

Memories – make good ones, for your family will recall them.

Gladys wrote this and shared it with her granddaughter Kristin on July 8, 2003. What a wonderful example of how our Lord, Jehovah Jireh, always provides for us. At this time of the year, Christmas, that has become so commercialized and tempts us to want “things” we don’t need, let us remember how God cares for our daily needs and that His supply is never short. Remember also, to share with others as God spurs you on to do so. He provides for us through each other time and time again.

1 Timothy 6:17-19
“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” NIV

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The Gratitude Diaries

 In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.          Thessalonians 5:18 (NAS)

Here we are coming off the week of Thanksgiving.  Much has been written about being thankful and grateful and not going too all-out crazy on black Friday.  We have been chided and challenged to keep a heart of gratitude all year long, not just the last Thursday of November.  So, how’s that working out for you?

I’ll admit that until this year, I rarely gave it a second thought.  The busyness of the holidays blows by with the force of a hurricane most years, with me left at the end of it all with messy hair and feeling like I’ve missed it. Like there should be something more fulfilling about this season.

The past year has found me on a journey of being more spiritually aware, and I have slowly moved toward being increasingly deliberate about my daily walk.  It’s a slow process, but there have been many rewards.  Striving for a heart of gratitude is part of the territory.

And so, a friend’s post on Instagram on November 1st that she was accepting a challenge to share something she was thankful for every day struck a chord with me.  I accepted the challenge, too.

It’s simple, really – for the 30 days of November, name one thing each day that you are thankful for & post a photo about that thing.  So simple.  But as it turns out, not easy.

It’s not that I couldn’t think of many things every day I’m thankful for – so coming up with just one was not difficult.  It was the planning to post something deliberate every day that got me.  Consistency and discipline are not my strong points, and this exercise brought that home.  Most days I was making my daily thankful post from the bathroom while brushing my teeth.  At midnight.  Not exactly the disciplined soul I pretend to be.

I began my month with a list.  I added to it daily.  It turns out, when you are deliberate in naming what you are thankful for you are naturally more aware of those things, which in turn makes you more thankful for them.  It’s a beautiful circle, really.

And so, I began posting.  My family, my pets, the beauty of the earth, even my washer and dryer made the list.   What I discovered was that each thing I was thankful for could not be adequately described in a few short sentences on Instagram, but I posted anyway and began thinking about writing a gratitude diary where I could expand on each item and get into the meat of why its existence was so important.

30Days.sunset                 30days.water

You know how they say it takes 21 days to form a new habit?  Try something for 30 days and it could even become a way of life.  What began as a fun way to post a new photo and clever phrase every day has become a daily exercise in gratitude awareness that I hope I can continue throughout the coming years.

I learned something about myself last month: it’s not that I am not thankful for these things all year long, it’s that I am just not deliberate in acknowledging them.  And so, I take them for granted.  I ignore their beauty and significance.  Worst of all, I was forgetting to thank God for those things, and I think maybe that makes Him a little sad.  I am surrounded by beauty and love and convenience.  Every. Single. Day.  It’s much too easy to take it all for granted.

I encourage you to try it.  Being thankful doesn’t end when the turkey leftovers are consumed and the Christmas decorations emerge from the attic.  It’s a daily exercise that will create in you a new outlook on the mundane.

If you are thankful for the technology that allows you to have clean clothes at home every day, you won’t think about the task of doing laundry in quite the same way again.  If you look at your family with eyes of gratitude for all the good they bring to your life instead of the annoying habits they possess, your love for them will grow.  Even the opportunity to have a fire in the fireplace on a cold night takes on new meaning.

So, what are you thankful for today?

 

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A Thankful Heart is a Joyful Heart

“Thankfulness opens your heart to My presence and your mind to My thoughts. You may still be in the same place, with the same set of circumstances, but it is as if a light has been switched on, enabling you to see from My perspective.”

“If we give thanks to God, He will give us joy in return.”

–Sarah Young, “Jesus Calling”

Sometimes it is hard to be thankful when things are tough. But when we do bring to mind the things we are thankful for despite the struggle, we will turn our minds to what is greater and positive and the Lord will bless you and bring joy to the situation.

Can you think of a time in your life that was hard and later you realized it was a blessing? Maybe your joy didn’t come right away. It came a day, a few days, weeks, or months later. Did you thank God during that hard time?

When I think of a time in my life when the blessing came later it was when I broke my arm.  I was a sophomore in college and went on a snowboarding trip. I broke my right humerus in half (no it was not funny) and I was in a cast for 3 months! I was in the middle of my semester and had to miss 2 weeks of classes! I was unable to use my right arm (I am right hand dominant) and almost had to drop out of school.  It wasn’t until a couple years later I realized what a blessing and joy this struggle was. I work in the sports medicine field and since I broke my arm, I have been able to relate to my patients on a deeper level. When I tell them my story, and encourage them, they instantly trust me and press on! It was a rough time in my life, but God is using my struggle for His glory. It was only because of Him I was able to get through it. He gave me strength! Now I am thankful for that struggle and see it as a blessing.

IMAG0182 (This is what my arm looks like now. It will forever be bent, but dont worry it’s fully functional : ) Prasie the Lord!)

I try to see the joy in circumstances and give thanks to God when I am in a hard time. It changes my whole perspective and puts my focus on Jesus. And he fills me with joy because I was obedient.

Try it! And don’t just be thankful during the thankful season we are in. Be thankful always like it says in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

If you have encountered Christ and he has been faithful, thank him. If he has given you blessings, thank him. If you love the sunset, mountains, ocean, fall colors, family, friends, thank him. He deserves our thankfulness, and in return he will fill you with JOY!

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What are you thankful for?

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!! I am thankful for you!

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