Thankful Heart

‘I have a thankful heart that You have given me
And it can only come from You’
(Petra)

Know that the Lord is God. It is He Who made us, and not we ourselves. We are His people and the sheep of His field.
Go into His gates giving thanks and into His holy place with praise. Give thanks to Him. Honor His name. For the Lord is good. His loving-kindness lasts forever.
And He is faithful to all people and to all their children-to-come.
(Psalm 100:3-5 NLT)

The definition of thankful: grateful and appreciative, aware and appreciative of a benefit, expressive of gratitude: a thankful smile.

Are you thankful? Do you thank God for your blessings every day? More than any other time in my life, this past year I have chosen to daily in my quiet time, in my prayer time, in my moments of overwhelming joy and agonizing despair, I have chosen to thank God for blessing me. No matter what life throws my way, I will not go through the day without thanking God for blessing me. Sometimes in my darkest moments, through my tears the only words that come to my mouth are, “Thank You, Lord!” and only because I have this hope, this peace that somehow, some way He will take care of me, and He will provide for my needs. I may not be able to see it with my eyes or touch it with my hands, but I know in my heart, His provision is certain.

I am so thankful today for Ryan, my amazing, gifted, gentle and loving husband. What an extraordinary journey our life has been together! We are celebrating 17 years of marriage next month and I have to call it an awesome achievement for us to have stuck with it thus far. How easy it would have been for either one of us to give up instead of sticking with one another through the ups and downs life has handed us thus far. It seems all too common to hear about so many marriages ending these days for one reason or another. With each day, with each difficulty we face together, we can agree that we have been strengthened, we are more certain of our love for one another and God’s plan for our lives together.

I am so thankful for my children, first my sweet daughter Rylee. What an amazing young woman you are! I am almost in tears to think back just this past year and realize how much you have had to endure, how you have handled the experiences we have been through. You have had to endure some very difficult, stressful times in our home that we have chosen to work through rather than attempt to hide from you. At your age, there is not much that we could hide from you because you are painfully aware of what is going on because it affects the entire family. I am so thankful my prayers for you have been answered! Over and over again, I see God transforming, strengthening, maturing you into this incredible person with such a gift for music, for being such a dedicated and hard working student, for loving your family so fiercely! You are such a beautiful person, inside and out, and I am so proud of you and how God is using you for His purpose. He is going to do some wonderful things through You, I have no doubt!

For my sweet boy, Bailey. You are such a cool kid! And so incredibly clever! I am absolutely filled with joy because of you and your firecracker personality. That personality and your gift for music and drama are certain to carry you to the stage in more ways than one I believe. You have such a kindness, such a big heart for others, for your family, the love and compassion just shines through your handsome face. I am amazed at the things that you come up with, your creativity, your wise cracks, those moments when I can’t contain my laughter at what you’ve just said or done! There is never a dull moment with you! I am so proud of you for how you have endured this past year as well. Like your sister, you are old enough to have been very aware of the stresses we have been through and some of it has been so much more painful for you to experience. I have felt such deep sadness at times to watch you struggle with it all, but as you have come through it and found the peace God gives, and realized the love your family has for you, it brings me such a depth of relief and peace. You are becoming such an incredible young man, and I know God has an amazing plan for your life. Hang on buddy, the ride is sure to be an amazing one!

For my little man, AJ. There are no words to describe the joy in my heart and soul just to see your sweet smile, those dimples, those sweet pink cheeks! You are growing up way too fast, I wish I could keep you little for a lot longer! You have been my little bear, my cuddly comfort in ways you will probably not understand until many years from now. Thankfully, this past year has not affected you as much as your siblings because of your age and the inability to comprehend the depth of what has occurred. In some ways that is a comfort to me because you won’t be able to remember some of the most difficult moments we have been through. I see in you a focus, an independence that is sure to take you far one day as a young man. I love to watch you pour all of your attention in to what you are doing, whether it is a game, a homework project, making me “dinner” while I am cooking our dinner, or reading a great book together just you and me. When your eyes light up, my heart lights up! Some of my favorite moments of the day are when you rush to hug me and tell me “Bye Mom!” before I head out the door to work every morning, or when you ask me “Can I sleep in your bed tonight?”. I am so proud of you and I know you are sure to become the young man God intends for you to be.

For my sweet baby girl, Chloe. What a joy and what a blessing you are! God timed your arrival just perfectly because there have been moments this past year when one of the only things that has brought joy to my day is to come home to you! You, like your siblings, have been a wonderful baby! I have been so blessed to have four wonderful babies! You have been the icing on the cake, the one that has rounded out this family just perfectly I believe. You’re picking up on everything a bit sooner but I know that is to be expected with 3 older siblings to keep up with! You are the most vocal of the bunch, and you keep us all in stitches by some of the expressions that come over your face. You are a joy, you make us all laugh and to hear you laugh fills the house with more fun than can be contained! I am amazed by God’s creation of you, how He has formed you so perfectly and uniquely. I am in awe every day to watch as you grow, change, reveal who you are to us in your sweet personality!

My heart is full, I am so incredibly thankful for what God has given me! There is no need to dwell on what happened in the past, but to move forward knowing we have learned so much, we will continue to learn from what God has for us to do right now, and we will look forward with great expectation to what He has for us in the future. God is good, all the time, in every circumstance, and we will not be moved or shaken by the uncertainties of this life. We have our hope and our peace in Christ, and we will stand confidently upon the promises He has given us.

Lessons to be learned, Blessings we have received

Daily I pray it, ask it, wonder in the waiting…God, what is the lesson to be learned? What more do you require of us? How much more will You stretch us, change us, make us into the beings you would have us to be?
We are called in our walk with Christ to be His followers, to live wholly devoted and righteous lives that shine for His glory. We have a precious gift we’ve been given, life eternal with Him and because of His choice to sacrifice His Son for our lives, to save us, to forgive us, to show how deep the Father’s love truly is for us. What will we do with what He has given us? How far are we willing to go?
I was reminded once again in my devotional this morning, through the life of David, just how far God expects us to go in showing our devotion to Him. We know God recognized him as “a man after My own heart” (Acts 13:22) and yet we read David’s journey was far from perfect. He took some hits, he made some really screwy decisions and God answered by forgiving him but also requiring him to endure the consequences. None of us can claim to be perfect, only striving toward perfection in Christ. So it is easy when life knocks us down, like it has for us this past year, to get to the point we question, “God, what are we doing wrong?” “Where are You in this?” “What more do we need to do to see You move on our behalf?” I was further challenged and encouraged today by a message I read online by Marilyn Murphree entitled “Strengthening Your Faith in Troubled Times: Unwavering Faith”. The power of Christ knows no limits! Jeremiah 23:23-24 God says to us “Am I only a God near at hand and not a God far off? Can anyone hide out in a corner where I can’t see him? Am I not present everywhere, whether seen or unseen?” No matter where we are, who we are, what we are praying for and when, He hears us and He will answer! He will provide! He is capable; He will do it and all in His perfect timing!
We are on this journey for a reason, reasons that baffle ALL of us. We cannot fathom what God has for us, but we can stand firmly upon His promise to sustain us, love us, and prepare us for what lies ahead. He will not fail us---oh, how we have seen that in the ways He has blessed us over and over again this year, through our family and friends, far and near. You have met a need in one way or another, and I believe wholeheartedly that God will richly bless you for it! In my most desperate hour, days when I find myself holding it together until I have a moment to close the bathroom door and let go for just a few minutes—know this: my tears and my cries to God are not only because of my realization that I am completely and utterly helpless in understanding any of this, but also out of the joy in knowing how deeply the Father cares for us, that we are not forgotten, we are so deeply loved and we will be okay. Each and every one of you has made such a difference in our ability to go on, to put one foot in front of the other. Keep it coming. We are the body of Christ, we need one another, and we love you so dearly.

Pondering, pondering.....

This morning I got up earlier than I usually do on a Sunday mainly because I knew I had some preparations for lunch today. I love the quiet, the stillness of the early morning before everyone is awake in the house. I was eager to get my cooking done and get to my quiet time. God took me to Hebrews 11 and Psalm 111 thanks to a wonderful daily devotional Bible I have. Hebrews 11 starting in verse 17 is filled with reminders of some very important men and how they chose to trust and obey God and by faith do what God called them to do. God's provision, how amazing, how wonderful! Then in Psalm 111:1-10 I was stopped in my tracks at verse 3.

'Everything He does reveals His glory and majesty.'

Everything? Really? I had to stop and ponder this verse, let it roll over and over in my heart and mind. Everything. How can that be? How is this, this we are going through, that? How can this, any of this reveal His glory, His majesty? God has been reminding me this week, just when I have been teetering on the edge of anger, desperation, frustration, such anguish over what feels like an never ending bad day, that HE IS STILL HERE. All is not lost, we cannot and shall not give up, we must press on toward the goal (Philippians 3:12-13) that is ultimately the reason we are on this earth. He has stripped us down to our very souls and we are living daily, hungry for His direction, His Word to cover us and protect us as we wait upon Him patiently. There are reasons we are still walking in this desert, and we do not understand it nor do we have all the answers yet. The sand is between my toes now, very uncomfortable, I am tired of it, I am ready for the oasis but...God says keep walking. I am frustrated but not fallen, I am bruised, battered but not beaten, I am resolved to stand firmly and confidently in the knowledge that God has a plan and He is not finished with us! We will continue to walk through this desert and trust that God is working, God is able, God will take care of us every step of the way.

Trust in Him, Live for Him!

In these uncertain days, there is no greater hope than what we have in Christ. Our days on this earth are numbered, God knows just how many we each have and so we must make each one count as if it were our last! I was reminded in my devotional today of one particular man’s response to God. His unyielding, unhesitant trust in God to do what was necessary to fulfill His purpose. Abraham was called by God to go to the mountain to make a sacrifice. It turned out when he arrived that the lamb was to be his son, Isaac. The son that was promised to him for so long and that he and Sarah waited for, until in their very old age God provided and Isaac was born! My goodness, can you imagine? I can’t. It was hard enough for me to have a baby at 39, but to have a child at the age of 90 something? Oy! Lord, You clearly have purpose in all You do but this one leaves me baffled. Genesis 22 God tells Abraham what he must to and there is really is no indication of anxiety, hesitation or fear in his response to God. How amazing is it to read as God stops him and then soon enough provides the lamb in the brush nearby? I can’t imagine what that experience must have been like for Abraham, and for Isaac as well! Certainly this would be a moment that neither one of them would soon forget. Something of an interesting father-son trip to say the least! So, it is rather humbling to me to consider after reading and recalling these familiar scriptures, my situation pales in comparison! I think we could all agree that in comparison most of our difficult experiences would pale in comparison to this! What I took away from it was this: How far will God take me in my faith walk before He believes I am ready for what is to come? How far am I willing to go? How long am I willing to wait? God doesn’t consider time in the way we perceive it to be; it’s His to determine. It is His to orchestrate. I may think I’ve got His ways all figured out, I know the scriptures, I believe what He has told me, I know what I have been taught, what I have learned rings true in my heart and soul…..but I do not know it all! I do not know God completely and I will not know Him completely until I am standing before Him in His glory! So, this journey is not complete. I have so much to learn. We all have so much to learn. We may think we have graduated, and yes there are some of us who know more than others at this point in our walk with Christ. So, are you as determined and willing in your faith as Abraham was to go the distance if God calls you to it? No holds barred, He has said, “Go!” and make a difference in this world where so many are willing to just get by, blend in, act the part, assimilate and just be more of the mass that is considered “the norm”. Don’t let it be you. Be set apart. Be His. Set the bar high. God has a higher calling for us. Will you answer? Will you trust Him no matter what?

my Ebenezer...

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