When you were a kid and had trouble sleeping, did your parents ever tell you to count sheep to help you fall asleep? I don’t actually remember my parents telling me that per say, but I have heard of that saying since I was a little kid. And, I recollect trying to count sheep to fall asleep.
Fast forward to being an adult. Well, first, allow me to take a minor side-step. I LOVE old movies. I can sit and watch TCM for days on end. The movies from the 1940’s and 50’s are my favorite. There is just something about old movies that speak to me in a way that current ones don’t. Anyway, one of my all-time favorite Christmas movies is White Christmas. In it, Rosemary Clooney sings this beautiful song called “Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep.” Now, maybe you can see where I am going with this.
As we enter into the month of November, the month in which we set aside one day as nation to give thanks, I think it is the perfect time to remind each of us that we should be thankful to God and counting our blessings each and every day. (And, I mean each and every day of every year—not just on Thanksgiving Day or for the month of November!)
God gives us so many amazing and wonderful gifts each and every day. Many of these gifts are simple things that we take for granted and often forget about. The gift of life, the gift of being able to get out of bed, the gift of having a bed, the gift of a gorgeous sunrise and/or sunset, I could go on and on.
In your Christian life, have you ever heard, “Seek the Giver, not the gift?” That is to say, we should be seeking God, not what God gives us. I certainly agree with this sentiment. We should be seeking God. We should be seeking God as much and as often as we possibly can. However, I learned a new saying just yesterday that I think we should all take to heart, that is a step above this statement. This new maxim I came across is, “Seek the Giver through the gift.” (I must give a shout out to Randy Alcorn and his Bible study “Happiness” for this little gem.)
Isn’t this just an extraordinary way of both seeking the Giver and of being thankful for the gift? I think it is! The example that Randy gives is that of a delicious meal. As we enjoy the meal, we can be thanking God for the ingredients, the hands that prepared it, and our taste buds for being able to taste it. These are all gifts from God! And, these are all things we should be thankful for!
In Psalm 50:23, Jesus tells us, “Giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors Me.” However, I don’t think that giving thanks is a sacrifice. On the contrary, I see this as an easy way to honor God. Especially when you compare it to what Jesus did for us by dying on the cross for our sins. Giving Him thanks for His gifts is the least we can do.
Have you ever thought that much about the words you speak, hear, and use each day? Have you ever put any thought into how nuanced your words are? Or, how nuanced the English language is? Or, honestly, is NOT? While I have pondered on this from time to time, I never gave it any real, considerable thought. At least, not until recently.
(As a side note, the reason I say our language is not very nuanced is because we tend to use the same words for many things. For instance, did you know that Eskimos have 50 different words for snow? Or, that the Tamil people of India and Sri Lanka have more than 50 words that mean variations of the word love? Isn’t that awesome?! I think so!)
I am doing a Bible study on happiness and it has brought all of this to the forefront for me. And, it is fascinating to me. Which, of course, means that I must share it with all of you.
How about the word word? Dictionary.com says that it is a unit of language. Which is true. But, thanks to my Bible study, I now think of words as containers that carry meaning. Isn’t that cool? A word is a container that carries meaning!
Now onto some words that are new to me, and one that I have been defining incorrectly.
Let’s start with the word blessed. Have you ever thought about what the true meaning of the word blessed is? I have always thought of it as meaning being gifted with something, or having something nice bestowed upon you, that you didn’t ask for or deserve. And, I have always associated it with being a Christian. Basically, I think of being blessed with gifts from God. (Gifts such as life, a home, food, etc.)
But, as we all know meanings of words can change over time.
Did you know that, in the Bible, blessed often really means happy? I had no clue! Blessed is the word that I mention above that I have been defining incorrectly.
Here are some new words for you. The Hebrew word for happy is asher. The Greek word for happy is makarios. So, both asher and makarios mean happy. And, many translations of the Bible use blessed for asher and/or for makarios. When the KJV translators rendered asher and makarios as blessed, their audiences knew the words meant happy. Happy was a synonym for blessed at that time.
Now though, no one seems to associate these two words--blessed and happy, happy and blessed. What a shame! God wants all His children to be happy. He wants all of us to be blessed. God has hard-wired all of us to want happiness. God, our Father, is a happy and generous Father, and He created us in His image.
Finally, before I go, I must share with all of you the word makarios doesn’t just mean happy, but it refers to deep, true happiness in God. Isn’t that beautiful?
I came across this post on Facebook today and I had to share it. Tera Elness is the Christian blogger who wrote this. Reading it was like an epiphany to me. I love, love, love it!
Thank you so much, Tera for writing this and sharing it. What a blessing you are!
I don’t know what you are waiting for Beloved, but I suspect you are waiting for something.
A breakthrough. A blessing. A boundary to keep him or her safe.
A dream to come true. A fear to get lost. A hope to fully be realized.
A restoration. A revelation. A real in-your-face-can’t-deny-it rolling away of the giant stone you just can’t seem to push out of your way.
Perhaps you are waiting.
For something to give.
For something to change.
For something to at least just shake loose.
Waiting is hard.
Amen and understatement.
And I’m not here to tell you otherwise, or proclaim it’s any easier for me.
I will tell you what He has shown me this year.
For truly, that’s what I do.
I can take the waiting and call it preparing.
Yes, I most certainly can.
I can call it glorious, holy preparing.
For I know, I have learned, that this is who He is.
A God who knows the value of the wait.
Babies in the womb take time to develop.
Seeds in the ground do too.
Cake batter in the oven doesn’t fair well after only five minutes in.
The best time.
The perfect time.
He knows the plans He has for us Beloved, He wrote them.
Each and every one.
For each and everyone.
And every one serves purpose.
He is the Author of our story and the Perfecter of our faith.
And I truly believe...that OUR waiting...is HIS perfecting.
Making us complete.
Making us whole.
Working things together for good.
Going ahead to prepare the green pastures before He leads us in.
For this is who He is.
He is good.
And His love endures forever.
And that will never change.
Trust the wait.
Trust the One.
Leaning on the everlasting arms...the ones that are carrying you home.
You can follow Tera's blog, One Girl's Faith Journey, by clicking HERE.
Growing in your spiritual life is not an easy thing. We learn from reading our Bible, that we will have trouble as long as we are living in this world. But, hallelujah, we also learn, that God has overcome the world! (See John 16:33.)
We can often find ourselves in the middle of some sort of trial or turmoil. The devil just loves to come at us in a myriad of ways. He will do everything he can do destroy our peace, our happiness; our relationship with the Lord. His ultimate goal is to beat us down, to make us feel like we have no worth; to feel like we are not loved.
The devil can get into your head and you may not even realize it. He uses fear, sin, unforgiveness, doubt, bitterness, and ignorance, among others. He plants negative seeds in your mind, seeds that cause apprehension, confusion, and uncertainty.
Even if you are someone who has a positive outlook and regularly rejects the devil and his attempts to drag you under, he will employ other methods to sidetrack you. I have found that he even uses things like boredom and busyness to divert us. Therefore, it is essential that we stand firm and plant ourselves in the love of our heavenly Father.
By reading our Bibles, we can learn to lean into God, stand on His promises, trust in Him, and believe that He will work out everything in our lives for good—if we let Him. (And, we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28)
I realized years ago that I can do nothing on my own. Whatever I accomplish in my life, it is only by the grace of God. In the book of Proverbs, Solomon reminds us that we are to, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5) And, we all need to do this.
I don’t know about you, but I “talk” to myself all the time. Yes, I admit it! (You know you do it too!) And, probably at least a million times a week I say to myself, “that makes zero sense.” I have concluded that most things in this world just do not make sense to me. In the past, I could really let these “things”, whatever they are/were get to me. Well, I am finally learning to not be bothered with these things anymore. Lean NOT on your own understanding.
I have decided to take this verse to heart.
And, why not? Why should we burden ourselves and weigh ourselves down with things we don’t understand? What’s the point? There is no point! This is what the Bible teaches us. We don’t NEED to understand everything. All we truly need to understand is that God is in control and He will take care of everything.
It is that simple!
Well, it’s that simple if we let it be. This is where the “trusting in the Lord” part comes into play. I am certain that, if we trust in the Lord, we don’t need to worry about anything else. End of story.
The devil wants us to try and figure things out for ourselves, because he knows it will just cause doubt and confusion. The devil causes us to question ourselves, to overthink, to try and figure everything out on our own. That in not the way we should be. That is not what we learn from the Bible. We don’t need any of the devil's crap! Send that devil away!
I believe in God. I trust in God. I know that He loves me and will work everything out for my good, no matter what happens. I don’t have to understand anything other than this. This is the beauty of God. This is the beauty of knowing God and trusting and believing in Him. It is simple. We just need to keep it that way!
So, put your trust in God. Believe in God. Trust and believe. Trust and believe. It is my new mantra!
A major life change is currently taking place in my family. We are preparing to move into our new home! It is an exciting, albeit, hectic and stressful time. Packing up all our belongings is one of those chores that demands physical strength and endurance. And, unfortunately for me, I don’t really have either one of those anymore. (Shout-out to my mystery illness!)
My husband and I have been anxiously awaiting this move for almost a year now. On the plus side, this time has granted me the freedom to clean up, clean out, purge, and pack things a little bit at the time. There is no way I would be able to handle doing all this the week before we move. (Talk about corporal punishment! I get exhausted just thinking about it.)
On another note, while waiting on our home to be built, I came across an idea that I thought was wonderful—and I want to share it will you. As I am sure you have already surmised, I love God. And, I want to grow in Him and share His love and light every day. With this endeavor, I am a work in progress!
I also want to fill my life with as much goodness as I can. This is especially true for our home. I mean home should be our sanctuary, right? It should be the place we long to be and feel most comfortable in. And, while I know that heaven is my true home, I want to make our earthly home as Godly and humble and inviting as I possibly can.
With that thinking in mind, it occurred to me that it would be lovely to find a blessing/prayer to christen our new home with. As I scouted around online, I stumbled upon an even better idea—write Bible verses in each room of your home. I must thank Laura Tucker for this fabulous idea. I encourage you to read her article A Strong Foundation: Bible Verses For Building A Home.
So, after deciding which Bible verses I wanted to use, I got my trusty Sharpie and went to work. Below are some pictures of the results. All of these are now covered in drywall and paint, but we know that they are there. And, more importantly, God knows they are there. I also wrote out this new home blessing in the middle of our living room floor:
May peace so fill this space
that strife will find no place.
May love so lift each heart
that pain will have no start.
May joy be in such supply
that sorrow’s tears will quickly dry.
And may each room be
filled with laughter, joy,
and song all the day long.
Building our new home on the firm foundation of God is the best investment we can ever make. It will pay dividends in every area of our lives. The same is true for you. It is true for all of us. When we put God first, everything else will fall into place.
Do you know that God loves you just as you are?
Just. As. You. Are.
He does NOT care what color your skin is.
He does NOT care how much money you have or don’t have.
He does NOT care if you are tall or short.
He does NOT care if you are a male or female.
He does NOT care if you are gay or straight or other.
He does NOT care about your sex, race, origin, or job.
He does NOT care how many “bad” things you have done in your life.
Look, we are all different and we all sin.
Every. Single. One. Of. Us.
God loves you.
Just the way you are.
He loves you just as you are, because you are His child.
He made you and He loves you.
Even with all your dirt, bruises, and scars.
He loves you.
Don’t let anyone tell you any differently.
You need God in your life.
I need God in my life.
We all need God in our lives.
Let God in, won’t you?
Don’t think that you can only become a child of God if you fit some mold.
Don’t think that you can only become a child of God if you are “good”.
Don’t think that you can only become a child of God if you are “perfect”.
There is no mold.
God made each of us special and unique.
And the only thing that is perfect in this world is God’s love for us.
There is only one thing you need to do to have God in your life—invite Him in.
Invite God into your life.
Believe in God.
Trust in God.
He is all you need.
The only sin you can commit that God will NOT forgive you for, is the sin of not inviting Him into your life.
So, what are you waiting for?
Invite God in!
I am at a place in my life where one of the things I long for most is peace. I have always disliked drama and politics. I have never understood why people can’t just get along. In my mind, it is simple—treat others the way you want to be treated. Or, at the very least live and let live, as the old saying goes. (And, yes, I do get the irony that I am a theatre nerd, was president of drama club in high school, and have two degrees in theatre—or drama as it is sometimes called.)
At 43, I am officially middle-aged. I hate typing that. In my brain, I feel more like 28. But sadly, my body often reminds me that I am far from 28. Anyway, I have been thinking a lot lately about “the peace of God which transcends all understanding.” This is from Philippians 4:7. And, this is what I want in my life.
So, how do we experience this peace? Where can we find it? How do we get it?
If you read your Bible, you will find the answer. John 14:27 tells us, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
Jesus left us His peace. It is one of His many gifts to us. We don’t need to ask for it. He has already given it to us. He left it for us a long time ago. Peace I leave with you. We just need to take it. Grab it. Step into it. Breathe it in. Soak in it. Heck, marinate in it!
God is peace. He is even referred to as the Prince of Peace. (See Isaiah 9:6) Once we know God, we can know peace. The more time we spend with Him, the closer we draw to Him, the more of His peace we can experience and benefit from!
Have you ever heard the saying that goes something like, “Who you spend the most time with is who you become”? I have heard it quite often. But, honestly, I am not sure if it is true or not. However, I hope and pray that I become more like God every day. It only makes sense to me that the best way to become more like Him is to spend time with Him.
When we remember to seek God in all things, He becomes our refuge, our sanctuary. God tells us that we can cast our cares, our worries, our problems, our sorrows, and our fears on Him. Then, we can let them go. (See 1 Peter 5:7) Being able to do this gives us peace. Once we learn how to do this, we start to grasp that, His peace really does pass all human understanding.
Now, this can and does take some time. It is not something that magically happens overnight. (At least, that wasn’t the case for me.) It was something that I had to work for. It is something that I still work for. I often have to remind myself that Jesus left me His peace. I just need to reach out and grab it!
I am so glad you are here! I am Erica Strickland, a girl who loves God. My goal here is to simply share His love and light.