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Posts Tagged ‘gratitude’

What Can I Give Him?

“What can I give Him,

Poor as I am?

If I were a shepherd

I would bring a lamb,

If I were a wise man

I would do my part.

Yet what can I give Him?

Give my heart.”

–Christina Rossetti

In my former church we sang this poem/song every Christmas.  It asks a great question.  At Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus and give each other gifts.  It is only reasonable to consider what we might give Jesus for His birthday.

nativity ornament

He has given us some solid clues.  I will describe four of them in this post and four more in my next post.

I think Jesus would be so grateful for these gifts (more…)

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So you’ve had a rough day/week/month/year? You lost your job. The house is in foreclosure. Your child is on drugs. Your dog died. Your girlfriend/boyfriend broke up with you. And the holidays are looming.

Years ago the Lord gave me a little outline that I have used personally and taught my children for when life gets challenging: 3 T’s for Tough Times. I hope they will help and encourage you.

Tell the Truth
The first thing I do when I don’t like something in my life is have an honest conversation with God. I bring my concerns to Him, and I tell Him the truth about how I feel. Yes, I am respectful, even worshipful. But God has invited us to worship Him in Spirit and in truth. (John 4:24)

I don’t believe He wants me to talk to him in the “correct way.” I am confident He wants me to tell Him that I am angry or hurt or confused or devastated or very afraid or…. I can tell Him what I like and what I don’t like about what is happening.

But then comes T #2:

Thank the Lord
God makes some pretty preposterous commands sometimes: In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

In everything? When the diagnosis is cancer? When your house is in foreclosure? When your daughter is cutting herself?

Yes. Everything.

Three wonderful things happen when I say Thank You, Lord.
1. My attitude begins to change, at least a little bit.

2. I acknowledge to God and myself that I believe God is God and God is good. He is sovereign and His intentions toward me are good.

3. I hand God the key to open the door to do the wonderful good that He wants to do

That brings me to T #3.

Trust the Good
Of course you know the wonderful promise of Romans 8:28: And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

And perhaps this hopeful word will add more encouragement: And I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good for them. I will put a desire in their hearts to worship me, and they will never leave me. I will find joy doing good for them and will faithfully and wholeheartedly replant them in this land.(Jeremiah 32:40-41)

When I trust the good—God and His intentions—I open my eyes, my mind, my heart. I begin to see the good He is doing in me, through me, in my loved one, in the situation. The more I trust His Godness and His goodness, the more I anticipate His involvement and intervention…in the Tough Times

Three simple truths:
Tell the Truth
Thank the Lord
Trust the Good.

What have been some of your recent tough times? What has helped you through them?

c2012 Judy Douglass

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“Congratulations on your miracle!”

These words from a friend’s doctor brought great rejoicing.  That doctor had told my friend it would be a miracle if she got pregnant.  And now she was pregnant.

Her response:  “Thank You, Lord.  Thank You so much!!”

It’s easy and natural to thank God when the news is what we want.

But it is not so easy for a 13-year-old boy I know.  He struggled through a year of chemo for a spinal cord cancer.  After three years cancer free, he just discovered it has returned.  How does he say “Thank You, Lord”?

Another friend has buried 2 loved ones in the past year. Saying “Thank You, Lord” has not been easy.

Other friends, for whose prodigal we have prayed, recently called to say their child took her own life. “Thank You, Lord?”

We know the verses:

“…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (I Thessalonians 5:18)

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation…with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

In all circumstances, in every situation: Give thanks.

Easy to do when the news is good. So challenging when the news is not what we want to hear.

How can God ask such a thing? What kind of impossible requirement is that?

The answer is: God is God and God is good.

Sounds simple, glib, out of touch with reality.

But it is true. I know it because God says it. And I have proved it. Over a (now long) lifetime, I have seen it true over and over.

In fact, I have found those two words—Thank You—spoken to God are the key to amazing changes:

God seems bigger. He isn’t bigger–He is already the biggest. But He grows in my understanding and perspective. I begin to grasp that He truly is God—in control of the universe and my life—and He truly is always looking for ways to do good to me.

My heart changes. The fear, anger, confusion lessen and peace begins to grow.

Doors open. The key that is “Thank You” opens my heart and mind to see good that God is doing, to recognize opportunities, to trust God’s love and goodness at a much deeper level.

For years I have practiced saying “Thank You, Lord.” Now, when little or big challenges come, my first response is almost always “Thank You, Lord.” Almost always. Still not easy. But oh how it protects and encourages and frees my heart and my mind.

“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13)

What about you?  What has challenged your willingness to say “Thank You, Lord”?

C2012 Judy Douglass

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I should have known it would happen.  It almost always does.

The problem with writing and speaking and teaching is that God seems to want to check me out:  Do I really believe this?  Do I live this way?

So last week I wrote about “What I Do When Someone Hurts Me.”

And Sunday night my husband and I taught at church on unselfishness and humility in relationships.

So why am I surprised that today I got to live them both out together?  I suppose I should be grateful He combined them into one opportunity for me to know if I am being authentic—walking my talking.

Someone who matters to me hurt me yesterday.  Today I went through all five of my actions to take when I am hurt.  One by one:

1.  I told God my real feelings about it all.  No holding back.  Raw emotion.

2.  I thanked Him–by faith–that He was in this situation.

3.  I looked for some glimpses of good, and I actually found some—at least the potential for good.

4.  I forgave the person who hurt me.  Not hard to do.

5.  I spoke blessings over this loved one.  Also not hard.

Then I realized that I—in my selfishness, my holding on, my grasping—was part of the problem.  I needed to humble myself, ask forgiveness and open my hand to the Lord, so He could give or take as He chooses.    So I did, rather reluctantly.

All okay now?  No. Not yet.  But better.  It is a process, a journey.  Tears return.  God has tissues.  The open hand already wants to hold on tight.  God’s grace entreats me to  let go of my rights, my desires, my needs—and trust Him.

People say I’m known for my realness.

I guess God wants to hold me to that.

What about you?  Has someone hurt you?  Are you holding on to that hurt?

C2012 Judy Douglass

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Josh with Mimi and Papa

The phone rang at 11 p.m.

I always hate late-night calls.  Especially when the voice on the other end says, “Mrs. Douglass? This is Officer Brown.”

Oh no.

“I have your son here on I-95.  He wants to talk to you.”

It was nothing serious. Sigh of relief.  Josh’s truck had quit running as he and his friend Dustin were on their way to visit Josh’s grandparents.  They had been sitting on the side of the highway—at mile marker 237– for two hours before Officer Brown came to their rescue.

I called AAA and headed out for the hour drive to meet the tow-truck.  Usually you wait a long time, but this time the tow truck was fast and about to leave when I arrived.  I sent him back to Orlando to deliver Josh’s green Ranger to our mechanic.

And Josh and friend and I headed home.  They begged me to take them on to Mimi and Papa’s, but I said no.

Five miles farther north and I could turn around and head home.  We were making good time going south on I-95 till mile marker 232.  Then a tire on a semi right in front of us peeled off and slammed under my car.  I lost power immediately and coasted to the side of the road.

So I sheepishly called AAA again.  “Guess what?  I need another tow truck.”

“Sorry, Mrs. Douglass.  You are in the middle of nowhere and the only truck just headed to Orlando towing your other vehicle.  It will be two hours before we get a truck to you.”

He was right on.  For two hours we waited—from 12:30-2:30.  The night was hot and sticky.  With no power we couldn’t run the ac.  We were parked next to a swamp, and the mosquitos were merciless.  And I had failed to bring food or drinks—the boys had had nothing since 8 p.m.

Josh was miserable.  Even distraught.

I just kept laughing, which made him angry.  I kept thanking God, and he was incredulous.

“Why not laugh?” I said.  “Complaining will not change our circumstances, but laughing and thanking change my attitude.  And it will make a great story.”

Finally the tow truck arrived.  “Sorry lady.  Our insurance doesn’t allow me to carry 3 passengers.  Can someone stay here?”

Hmm, would that be one or two 16-year-old boys, or one mom?  On the side of the road, in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere?  No.

So he drove us to the next exit and left us at a closed service station.  Again I laughed, and said, “Thank You, Lord.”

I called a friend who drove the hour to pick us up.  A quick stop at a rest area with vending machines and restrooms, and we headed home.

At 5 a.m. we all went to bed.

And to this day we talk about the night we spent on I-95.  Josh  began to understand that laughing and saying “Thank You, Lord” made a bad situation not so bad.

And it has been a great story!

What about you?  When have laughter and gratitude made bad not so bad?

C2012 Judy Douglass

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In honor of my Kindling post #200, I want to say thank you to my readers.

I am so grateful for those who take time to read what I write.  I certainly hope Kindling has been an encouragement to you—and trust it has ignited a few fires in your heart and mind.

I would like to invite you to subscribe to Kindling, if you don’t already.  I subscribe to blogs I want to be sure to see, so they come to my inbox.  I may not read them all, but I don’t have to go looking for them.  They come to me.  So all you have to do to ensure that Kindling comes to you is click on the Subscribe icon in the upper right corner.

I also want to invite you to enter into conversation on Kindling.  I would love to hear from you:  Do you have thoughts or responses to a particular article?  Topics you would love to see me address?  Concerns you want to express?

Of course, I would be additionally grateful if you recommend Kindling to your friends.

And I would love to pray for you.  Let me know if I can do that with some specific requests.

May your Thanksgiving celebration be joyful and filled with gratitude to our very good God.

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Wow!

The doctor kept saying wow!

It was good news! Our son-in-love Nick, who has an auto-immune liver condition that almost killed him over a year ago and for which the only cure is a transplant, just finished his first Mayo check-up in a year. All the reports came back good—equal to or better than a year ago. The doctor’s response: I didn’t expect you to be so healthy.

Our response: Thank You, Lord. Praise God! So grateful!

It was not hard for us to thank God for this Wow!

But my friend Marie—she is young—just got a report that she has colon cancer. Young people aren’t supposed to get colon cancer. Can she say, Thank You, Lord?

Another friend has buried 2 loved ones in the past year. Saying Thank You, Lord has not been easy.

Other friends, for whose prodigal we have prayed, recently called to say their child took her own life. Thank You, Lord?

We know the verses:

“…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (I Thessalonians 5:18)

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation…with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

In all circumstances, in every situation: Give thanks.

Easy to do when the news is good. So challenging when the news is not what we want to hear.

How can God ask such a thing? What kind of impossible requirement is that?

The answer is: God is God and God is good.

Sounds simple, glib, out of touch with reality.

But it is true. I know it because God says it. And I have proved it. Over a (now long) lifetime, I have seen it true over and over.

In fact, I have found those two words—Thank You—spoken to God are the key to amazing changes:

God seems bigger. He isn’t bigger–He is already the biggest. But He grows in my understanding and perspective. I begin to grasp that He truly is God—in control of the universe and my life—and He truly is always looking for ways to do good to me.

My heart changes. The fear, anger, confusion lessen and peace grows.

Doors open. The key that is “Thank You” opens my heart and mind to see good that God is doing, to recognize opportunities, to trust God’s love and goodness at a much deeper level.

For years I have practiced saying “Thank You, Lord.” Now, when little or big challenges come, my first response is almost always “Thank You, Lord.” Almost always. Still not easy. But oh how it protects and encourages and frees my heart and my mind.

“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13)

 

C2011 Judy Douglass

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My mama at 90

My mother went to heaven almost four years ago.  I still miss her.

Shortly before her departure, our family celebrated her 90 years on earth.  Most of us wrote  tributes to Mama/Annu as part of that celebration.  Here is mine:

Tribute to Mama

Mama, you have given me so many gifts.  Of course there are the many tangible gifts, the things, the jewelry, the clothes.  And financial gifts—most everything we have done to fix up our house comes from your kindness.  I am so grateful!

But I am even more grateful for the intangible gifts you have given me.

My mama at 20

Emotions.  No one denies that you have plenty of emotions.  And I seem to have received a good share of them.  But those emotions allow me to live my life with joy and passion and a whole heart.  Thank you.

Tenacity.  Some people probably call this stubbornness.  You have it and so do I.   But it is a great quality that enables us to push through, stick it out, not give up, never settle for less.  I wouldn’t want to be without tenacity, because I don’t think I could have lived through my life without it.  Thank you.

Generosity.  Many have mentioned this quality in you—because it is perhaps your most defining one.  You have given and given and given.  We have all benefited.  And I am so grateful that you have passed that on to me.  One of my greatest joys in life is to give.  Since I don’t have a lot of tangible things to give, I have learned to give in other ways—through love, listening, encouragement and prayer.  Thank you.

So please accept my thanks, my gratitude, my appreciation for the multitude of gifts you have given to me.  My life is so much richer because you are part of it!

I love you,

Judy

c2011 Judy Douglass

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I have found something that I am an expert on:  whining.

It’s such a great word.  Just to say it sounds like whining.

What qualifies me as an expert?

Three grown children and now four grandchildren.  Children seem to whine naturally, and mine were good at it from their earliest days.  Their children are continuing the tradition.

“Mommmm!”

“He’s touching me!”

“Mannn, that’s not fair!”

‘I’m so good at it.’

But the real reason I’m an expert on whining is not that my children were so good at it.  It’s because I’m so good at it. Since I’m a “weather wimp,” my whining often centers on climate control:  “It’s sooo hot (or cold, or wet or whatever).”

 

My other typical whines: “I really need new shoes…freezer…time by myself…”

 

“Look at this mess!”

 

“I could do this so much more efficiently.”

 

Why do we whine?

 

Whining is about “dissing”–a way for us to express our displeasure, our dismay, our disagreement, our disappointment, our dissatisfaction.  We often whine about things we can do nothing about, which then leads to a habit of whining about things we could do something about.

 
And what does whining accomplish?  It solves no problems, but it has many predictable consequences:  It puts us in a negative frame of mind, it is depressing or discouraging to the people around us, it presents a negative model to our children and others we would want to influence and it eats away at our trust in God.

 
Each of us will encounter many disagreeable circumstances. How we respond is our choice. We can whine or we can choose a more positive approach. I have found two attitudes  especially helpful in transforming my tendency to whine into a positive response to negative circumstances.

 

Giving Thanks

The first attitude is gratitude.  We know  the Word of God tells us we are to express gratitude in all things: “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:18).

 

 

When things are going the way we like, that’s not hard for us to do, though we don’t always remember.  But when things are not going the way we like, we find it much more difficult to say “Thank you” to God.  When there is a major illness, financial setback, loss of a job, a difficult relationship or the death of a loved one, the words “Thank you, Lord” just don’t seem to make it past our lips..

 
When we choose to say “Thank you” rather than whine, we are acknowledging who God is:  He is the great, powerful, almighty, creator of the universe. He loves us with an everlasting, unconditional love.  He is good and therefore all that He does is good.  We are declaring that we trust Him.

 

 

A grateful heart displaces a whining spirit.

 

 

Being Content

The second attitude I have found useful in confronting my tendency to whine is contentment. Frequent whining is a sure sign that I am not content.  The apostle Paul gives us many reasons that he had not to be content:  He was scorned and mocked.  He was stoned, shipwrecked and beaten.  He suffered hunger, rejection and imprisonment (1 Cor. 9:4-13; 2 Cor. 11:23-27).  But he found the secret of contentment.

 
Most of us continually live with a “greener grass” mind frame. We are convinced that something different, something new or something more will be better.  One of my favorite sayings is that “the greener grass has been spray-painted by the evil one.”

 
We whine about our present circumstance, certain that change will bring what we desire.  Yet those desires are often just temptations sent from the evil one to seduce us from trusting God. The pastures that God has prepared for us are rich, lush and satisfying. “Contentment is essentially a matter of accepting from God’s hand what He sends because we know that He is good and therefore that it is good” (J. I. Packer).

 

 

A contented heart overcomes a whining spirit.

 

 

Gratitude and contentment can banish whining any day, every day.

 

 

What have you whined about lately?  Are you yearning for fake greener grass?  Have you said, “Thank You, Lord”?

 

 

c2011 Judy Douglass

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Reading is transforming, but it is also time consuming.  I was sure I would add books to my Transforming Reads List regularly, but that assumed I would be reading books to add.

I am pleased to share a few more books that I believe could have great impact on your life.  Some I have read in the past—long ago, or not so long ago.  Others I have read recently.  Of course, these barely scratch the surface of my “to read” list, which grows even more quickly as I can add them to my Kindle with the touch of a button.

Enjoy—and may you be transformed.

Books from My Past

  • Hinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard—the book I turned to repeatedly in my young Christian life at times of emotional distress
  • Making of a Man of God by Alan Redpath—a motivating look at the life of David
  • Tapestry by Edith Schaeffer—a powerful vision of God at work in lives, families, generations

Making Me Think

  • A Million Miles in a Thousand Years:  What I Learned While Editing My Life by Donald Miller–a funny and challenging call to living a better story
  • “Are Women Human?”  Essay by Dorothy L Sayers—a witty, thought-provoking and convincing look at what women can contribute
  • Forgotten God:  Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit by Francis Chan—an important emphasis on the Holy Spirit—almost like reading Bill Bright again
  • Half the Church:  Recapturing God’s Global Vision for Women by Carolyn Custis James—a compelling look at God’s call to His daughters to impact the world—I will give many away!
  • Radical:  Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt—a convicting read on the meaning of true discipleship

Strengthening My Soul

  • Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging by Brennan Manning—a call to be enfolded into the love of our Father
  • Objects of His Affection:  Coming Alive to the Compelling Love of God by Scotty Smith—profoundly impacted my understanding of God’s love for me
  • One Thousand Gifts:  A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp—a beautiful call to a life of gratitude
  • Ruthless Trust:  The Ragamuffin’s Path to God by Brennan Manning—great insights into what it means to trust God
  • Treasured:  Knowing God by the Things He Keeps by Leigh McLeroy—Leigh is a master of words and the Word, cutting deeply yet gently to soul issues

Widening My World

  • A Thousand Sisters:  My Journey into the Worst Place on Earth to Be a Woman by Lisa Shannon—a tale of horror and hope for women in Congo
  • Half the Church:  Recapturing God’s Global Vision for Women by Carolyn Custis James–a powerful call to women to be the difference in our world
  • Three Cups of Tea:  One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace…One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson—a story of peace and a future through education for girls

Lives That Inspire

  • Bonhoeffer:  Pastor, Prophet, Martyr, Spy by Eric Metaxas—a biography of a true hero
  • Out of the Far Corners:  An Epic Tale of Rejection, Grace and Deliverance by Peter Iliyn—Peter honors his father and the difficult journey he took as a Russian orphan across the world, filled with gratitude in the face of great challenges.
  • Thin Places:  A Memoir by Mary DeMuth–a raw and courageous telling of pain and redemption in her life.

My New Book

  • Secrets of Success:  God’s Lifelines by Judy Douglass—A gift book to help students learn how to make right choices for their lives.

May you discover new worlds and uncover deep secrets in these lives and stories!

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