THANKFUL FOR GOD’S GRACE……… PERIOD.

In pondering what should be written for you today, I have come to the conclusion that my mind is cluttered with the needs of the gift shop that I manage here in this retirement village, and all the music that needs to be practiced and memorized.   Whoa….has my precious time with God been pushed aside because of “busyness”? Forgive me Lord.  I am so thankful, not just at this season of thankfulness, but every moment of every day for Your unfailing Grace!

What better gift of life words could I give you than the words from the Book of Life? So glean strength from these words of encouragement.

Romans 5   We have been made right with God because of our faith. So we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Through our faith, Christ has brought us into that blessing of God’s grace that we know enjoy.  And we are happy because of the hope we have of sharing God’s glory.  And we also have joy with our troubles because we know that these troubles produce patience.  And patience produces character, and character produces hope.  And this hope will never disappoint us, because God has poured out his love to fill our hearts  God gave us His love through the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to us.

Christ died for us while we were yet sinners and weak.  We were living against God, but at the right time, Christ died for us.  Very few people will die to save the life of someone else.  But Christ died for us while we were still sinners.  In this way God shows His great love for us.

Sin came into this world because of what one man (Adam) did.  And with sin came death.  And this is why all men must die …. because one man sinned against God.  But there is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift.  For the sin of this one man brought death to many.  But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and His gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ.  And the result of God’s gracious gift is very different from the result of that one man’s sin.  For Adam’s sin led to condemnation, but God’s free gift leads to our being made right with God, even though we are guilty of many sins.  But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and His gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.

Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone.  Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners.  But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous.

God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were.  But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant.  So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

PERIOD

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Grateful For the Hard Times

Have you learned how to have a heart of gratitude? According to researchers, there are specific things you can do daily to cultivate a grateful heart. Some are obvious. Some not so obvious. But all are oh, so important.

Like learning to recognize God’s presence in everything. And by everything, I mean EVERY THING. The good, the bad and the ugly. No matter what, you have never walked alone.

Think back. Look for it. You’ll see.

A few years ago, my son was in the hospital for brain mapping for his seizures. I was there with him for a week, because they needed a family member familiar with his seizures to press a button every time one happened. Little or big. I loved getting to know my young adult son on this intimate level. We talked, we laughed. When he had visitors, I’d step away for a break. For the most part, we were captive room mates. It was a strangely enjoyable time.

We had spent family time with my older brother just a few days before entering the hospital, and he had promised to visit Chris that week. It was quite a drive, so nearly every day I would leave him a message describing the traffic, say I knew he had to get up so early for work, and he should wait until the weekend to come visit. All was well.

Except it wasn’t. When my brother didn’t show up to visit Chris by Friday evening, I called him several times. No answer. I called his neighbor, who said the car was in the driveway, but lights were out in the house. I called my nephew, a police officer, to ask what I should do. He immediately drove there, and looking through the window, could see my brother lying on his bed. He was gone.

I know what you’re thinking: WHAT could possibly be good about this situation? How can you be thankful for your brother being found lifeless in his bed?

Clearly, I’m not thankful for the death of my brother. What I am thankful for is the orchestration of all the surrounding events:

* God chose to call my brother Home in the gentlest of ways. He simply took a nap after work, and didn’t wake up. I’m grateful.

* I was helplessly locked in to a commitment of being in the hospital with my son. If I hadn’t been there, I would have driven out to my brother’s house and I would have found him. I’m grateful to be spared from that.

* My nephew is a police officer in the adjoining city and when he called the dispatcher, he knew her. He knew the protocol of what to do in this situation and said to me, “Tami, God arranged for this to happen when I could take care of it for you.” I’m grateful for him and his good heart.

* Officers arrived & they had a common ground with my nephew. When they looked through the house and found no evidence of foul play or suicide, they reported it as such and the mortuary was called to pick up my brother, and not the coroner. This never happens in Los Angeles county. I’m grateful.

There is more, but I think you get the picture. As I think back on that night, I see God’s handwriting all over the situation, and I am grateful.

Since then, I’ve entering into times of beautiful blessing as well as hardship. I see God’s hand in that, as well. And I am grateful.

So very grateful.

Look at your life. Think back. Take some time to see how God connected the dots in your helpless and even hopeless situations. Never once, did you ever walk alone.

I hope you’ll see.

There is so much to be grateful for.

THANK YOU, LORD

In reading the Scriptures listed under the thanksgiving title in the concordance, I notice that most of them begin with an admonition to be joyful and sing!

Well…….I like that for sure!!!

When I am weary or discouraged and I start singing, or listening to praise music….the joy and thanksgiving in praise wells up within me.

I love God’s creation of animals and natural places in our world. Do you think they thank God for their existence? Ha! That may be taking it a bit too far! However, the “trees of the field clap their hands”  in praise to God, and, if we don’t praise Him, even the rocks will cry out!!! He provides food and water for His animal creations! The seas roar and the stars sing!

These alive plants and animals……all of earth and the heavens know who their Creator is. And God cares so much for His creation He even knows and cares about the little sparrow that falls.

HOW MUCH MORE HE CARES FOR YOU!!!

GIVE HIM THANKS…..FOR HE IS GREAT, AND GREATLY TO BE PRAISED!!!

Psalm 100  “Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands! Serve the LORD with gladness; come before His presence with singing. Know that the LORD, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;  We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name, for the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.”

Karen at Cannon Beach ~ Haystack Rock

Karen at Cannon Beach ~ Haystack Rock

When Heaven and Earth Collide

On Thursday I was worshipping during a corporate worship service and I felt as if heaven and earth were colliding. It was the feeling as if things of heaven were coming down to earth and all the saints were in one room together along with angels. The presence of God was so overwhelming in the room that I was flat on my face lying on my stomach on the floor.

While I was lying on the floor worshipping there was a presence of someone else worshipping with me. Yes, there were many other people physically in the room, but I felt as if someone was with me spiritually. It felt as though someone I dearly love who went home to Jesus about 6 years ago was with me. That presence was my dear Grandma! It was beautiful. I felt as though my grandma and I were worshipping our God together! I had tears of joy streaming down my face. She and I were laughing together and singing praises to our Savior. The moment was wonderful and I didn’t want it to end.

I know for a fact my grandma is in heaven and I believe God gives us gifts from heaven like visits from the ones we love who have gone before us.

This is not the first time my grandma has visited me. Almost exactly a year ago I had a dream that was so vivid I felt as though my grandma was in the room with me. She told me she was sent from God to bring me reassurance and hope.

Before my grandma’s visit last week, I was missing her and wishing she was with me. I want to talk with her so badly about all the things God is doing in my life. I want to sit down over a cup of coffee and have a conversation about Jesus. Even though I cannot physically see her or give her a hug, I was reminded on Thursday that she is with me. She is seeing all that God is doing in my life, and we shared a special moment together in the presence of God. What an incredible gift!

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Hillsong has a song called “Heaven and Earth.” The chorus is

Heaven and earth collide
The Savior for everyone has come
Bringing the dead to life
All for the glory of Your name

This is so true! The savior for everyone has come. He came to this earth and is alive in heaven. He brings the dead to life, which is true in many ways, but in this case, my grandma “died” on earth, but is alive in heaven with Jesus! And I was able to experience her being alive to bring glory to the name of Jesus. He is the only reason why I was able to worship with my grandma and see her in a dream.

I hope this is an encouragement to you! That you will experience heaven and earth colliding. Worship God, give thanks to him, praise his holy name, ask for an encounter with him, and you will experience the greatness and glory of the Lord on earth as it is in heaven.

 

“I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” Ephesians 1: 18-19

 

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN.” Matthew 6:9-10

Present over Perfect

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Christmas is less than a week away. Are you ready?

I hear this almost daily. And the truth is, I’m not ready. Gifts are not all purchased, cards are not addressed, and cookies are not baked.

And I’m okay with that.

It’s been coming on for a while, I suppose. At Thanksgiving, I amazed myself by using disposable plates so we would have more family time instead of doing dishes. Nikki had just returned the night before from 11 months of ministry on The World Race & I didn’t want to miss a minute with her. The difference did not go unnoticed. We ALL were relaxed and enjoying each other’s company. I chose to be present with the family over having a perfect table. Present over perfect.

As the days fly by, choose to be present over perfect this holiday season. For some of us, that is extra difficult. We want to appear perfect at this festive time – the perfectly trimmed tree, beautiful greeting cards and lovely decorations…. when in reality, that often just produces days filled with empty busy-ness and neglected families.

We are so caught up in the appearance of a happy holiday, we forget what it means to be present.

We believe the lies that

1) EVERYTHING is important. (Truth: You get to dictate what’s important.)

2) My possessions are adding value. (Truth: most likely, your possessions weigh you down.)

3) If I’m busy, I’m important. (Truth: If you’re busy, you’re making yourself unavailable.)

4) Achievements will bring me fulfillment. (Truth: God has already spoken fulfillment over you.)

5) I don’t have a choice. (Truth: It’s OK to say NO.)

6) I am needed. (Truth: The situation will be just fine without you.)

7) Quietness is laziness. (Truth: Quietness is necessary.)

Yes, Christmas is 4 days away. And I’m not ready.

As I write this, I’m sitting with a loved one in the hospital. Present over perfect.

My Christmas cards will most likely be mailed on December 26th (or later), because I want to enjoy my family to the fullest. Present over perfect.

Not a single gift is wrapped and under the tree. This will surely be a gift card year. Present over perfect.

Let go of your need to be perfect & see how it frees you. You may cringe a little (I know I have), but you will not regret being Present over appearing Perfect.

And it will be okay.

(7 lies introduced by Joshua Becker of the Becoming Minimalist blog, as told to me by an attendee of Storyline Conference 2014 Chicago)

THANK-FULLNESS

We are taught as children to say “thank you” when someone gives us something. We see them…..we see and hold the tangible object given to us, so it’s easy to remember to say thank you. But, what about our thankfulness to God for all that He gives us every moment of every day?

The “Thanksgiving Day” has passed last week, but the Scriptures teach us to be thankful every day, in every circumstance! Easy to say…..hard to do…right?

An eighty year old friend told me a few days ago that she searched for God’s will for her life for years. Then one day as she was reading I Thessalonians 5:16-18 she understood what God’s will for her was in all of life’s trials and joys. And, even though she is in a wheelchair now in a nursing home and her future is filled with pain and the uncertainty of quality of life for her days on this earth, she rejoices in knowing God is with her…..and she is FULL OF THANKS.

These words of wisdom affected my perspective on dealing with the seasons of life….The good and the bad. So,as you read this scripture today…be encouraged that God’s will for you is to be thankful…no matter what!!!

I 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.”

Thy Word

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?

 

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!