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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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