Thanksgiving … a gratitude celebration. What are you grateful for?

Vegetables

 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100

That first Thanksgiving celebration in America was a celebration of survival, a celebration of freedom, a celebration of worshipping God, and a celebration of new friends, the Native Americans who taught the Pilgrims and Puritans how to survive.

After a year of sickness and fleeting food, the Pilgrims and Puritans reaped a bountiful harvest. In 1621, an American tradition was born, a gratitude celebration.

Our God is a God of celebrations. He established the Passover and commanded the Israelites to celebrate the Passover to remember the time of their departure from Egypt and to point them to the future Messiah.

Another celebration God established was the Feast of Tabernacles:

13 Celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles for seven days after you have gathered the produce of your threshing floor and your winepress. 14 Be joyful at your festival—you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites, the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns. 15 For seven days celebrate the festival to the Lord your God at the place the Lord will choose. For the Lord your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete. Deuteronomy 16:13-15

A time of departure.

A time of harvest.

A time of work.

A time of joy.

All to be celebrated.

What are you celebrating today?

My prayer for you:

Father, we thank You for Your bountiful provision, for Your protection, for Your guidance, and for Your works. Thank You for establishing times to reflect upon the milestones in our lives and the life of America. May we live in gratitude and remember that it is You who bless us and provide for us. Thank You, Lord, that You love us. In Jesus’ holy name, we pray. Amen

Blessings from pain

As He [Jesus] passed by, He saw a man blind from birth.  And His disciples asked Him, “ Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him. John 9:1-3

Have you reflected upon this and thought this might apply to you? It applies to me. I was a sickly child. Hospitalized many times in my teens. Later, I developed fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. For years, I suffered and cried out to God.

I found many blessings in the pain and fatigue.

The greatest blessing came to me as I lay on our living room couch in the middle of the night in pain. Many nights, I turned to the Psalms and observed David’s agony turn to praise. David taught me to cry out to God and then turn my focus upon God. Gratitude filled my heart as I saw how small my pain was in comparison to how great God is. Those intense, painful moments melted into moments of blessing and love.

I also learned how much my husband of 41 years loved me. He is the embodiment of a servant-leader, giving and caring with no expectation of return. Without the pain and limitations, our relationship would not have been as intimate as it is today.

Blessings from the pain turned into opportunities to minister to others in pain and suffering. Coworkers, family, friends and their friends knew that I had walked a similar path of pain for years and that I understood what they were going through. They also saw a woman who had been delivered from her pain, and they wanted to hear about how I had been healed. They wanted prayer. They wanted compassion. They wanted practical insight in coping with the pain.

I am grateful for the years of pain. The pain opened doors into people’s hearts that would never have been opened without the pain.

This life journey has truly been a gratitude adventure.

My prayer for you:
Great Comforter and Healer, we honor You and praise You for what You are doing in our lives and for who You are. You have promised that You would never leave us nor forsake us. We trust You and lean upon You in these times of trials. Jesus, we thank You for love beyond measure that You bestowed upon us. You were beaten and scourged for us, and by Your stripes we are healed, whether it is today or tomorrow or when You take us home. You hung on the cross to pay the price for our sins, so that we could be with You for eternity. That is the greatest blessing of all. What a friend we have in You, Jesus. Pour out Your Spirit upon us, so that we can point people to You. It is because of You that we have blessings and we can bless others. Thank you. Amen.

Wishing you a gratitude adventure as you contemplate the blessings that we experience in our pain and limitations. We can turn them into opportunities to impact the lives of others.

What are you doing to turn your pain into blessings?

 

What’s your journey? Gratitude Adventure?

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

I have walked Malaysian beaches, galloped through the woods in the Philippines, ridden an elephant in Thailand, dodged the traffic in Delhi, climbed the Great Wall of China, floated along the Venetian canals, skied the Italian Dolomites and Austrian Alps, wept gazing at the Pieta at St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, pondered the graves of Arlington National Cemetery, kissed my husband atop the Taj Mahal, renewed my marriage vows in the Garden Tomb of Jesus, relished fireworks at the foot of the St. Louis Gateway Arch, slept in the hotel room that Napoleon Bonaparte stayed in, and enjoyed picnics under the Sequoias.  I have been to the mountaintop and to the pit of despair; and I have chosen to walk the path of gratitude.

This crooked, uphill, downhill, sometimes overgrown path that I have chosen as my life’s journey has taken me to many destinations; yet, it was the journey, not the destinations that helped shape who I am.

My journey is one of stretching, making myself a little uncomfortable, so that I am always striving for something beyond what I have proven I can accomplish, honing myself, and, at times, choosing to reinvent myself.

Reinvention and innovation. That’s the language of today’s business environment. It’s uncertain and uncomfortable. It takes purposeful stretching and flexibility.

In July, my wonderful husband of 41 years, Keith, stopped me as we walked Vatican City with a group of students we were leading on a study-abroad course, “Who would have thought that a poor Tulsa girl would be doing this?”

That poor Tulsa girl became a Christ-follower when she was about eight-years-old at Vacation Bible School.

I remember reading my Bible and trying to understand it. Oh how I loved the Lord. I basked in His creation and loved taking walks alone, so that I could talk with Him. The journey was a delight. He led me beside the still waters.

Jesus walked me through the Valley of the Shadow of Death in my late teens. All the while, I felt His presence. God sent a preacher who had suffered from polio and was confined to braces and crutches to mentor me through the tough recuperation and to be an example of a Christ-follower whose joy in the Lord spills out onto others.

Keith and I married, even though he thought I would not live to be 30. The love of a man like Keith is far more precious than rubies, sapphires, and diamonds. He blessed me through his selfless, servant-leader approach to marriage.

Trials, challenges, and mountaintops have enlarged our borders as we have delighted in the ways of the Lord.

Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:5

What a precious promise! God has given me the desires of my heart as He has stretched and continues to stretch me into the woman who will accomplish the works He planned for me from before the foundation of the world.

I am grateful for this life’s gratitude adventure.

My prayer for you:

Father, You have directed our footsteps and lit our paths. May we bless You and point people to You as You pour out Your Spirit upon us. May we show forth Your great compassion, mercy, and grace. In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.

Wishing you a journey of joy and adventure as you stretch your capabilities and impact others for good.