Yeah, I know, I am a little late with this post. But, as the old saying goes, “better late than never.” So, here is my Thanksgiving post. Thanksgiving is a national holiday that started out as a day to give thanks for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year. And, while it is nice to have a nationally recognized day to give thanks, one day just isn’t enough.
We, especially those of us who call ourselves Christians, should be giving thanks to God each and every day of our lives. That is how God wants it, and it should be how we want it too. We are to give God thanks for everything in our lives, even the trials and misery that we face. While that sounds backwards to many, once you become a Christian, you start to understand why this is a vital part of our spiritual growth.
God wants us to take the adversity that we face in our lives and use those opportunities to lean on Him. He wants us trust in Him to get us through. He wants us to have faith in Him that everything will be okay. Or, at the very least, that He will work everything out for our good. How do I know all of this? The Bible tells us so. (This is why it is so important to read your Bible daily.)
Do you remember being a kid and having some aches in your legs? I sure do! I had them often. When I complained to my parents, they would always tell me they were growing pains. If I wanted to get taller, that was the price I had to pay. Our spiritual growth is the same way. Anytime we grow and stretch ourselves, there will be pain involved. So, while giving thanks to God during our trials is tough at first, and maybe even counterintuitive, it is the best possible thing you can do for yourself during those times. God sees and hears you and eventually He will bless you for it.
So, as we continue through this season of thanks, remember to give thanks to God each and every day for every circumstance, good or bad that you have. Stretch your spiritual muscles and grow strong in your faith and in the Lord.
If you are a fan of “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young, today’s devotional lines up perfectly with this post. Sarah writes:
“Rest in the deep assurance of My unfailing Love. Let your body, mind, and spirit relax in My Presence. Release into My care anything that is troubling you so that you can focus your full attention on Me. Be awed by the vast dimensions of My Love for you: wider, longer, higher, and deeper than anything you know. Rejoice that this marvelous Love is yours forever!
The best response to this glorious gift is a life steeped in thankfulness. Every time you thank Me, you acknowledge that I am your Lord and Provider. This is the proper stance for a child of God: receiving with thanksgiving. Bring Me the sacrifice of gratitude, and watch to see how much I bless you.”
1 Peter 5:7; Ephesians 3:16-19; Psalm 107:21-22
I will end by circling back around to what I said at the beginning: giving thanks only one day year is just not enough! Let’s all remember to give thanks to God every day.
After work each day, I take our dog, Clancey, for a walk. Getting in this little bit of exercise each day is good for both of us. I have always enjoyed being outside, feeling the sunshine on my face, and getting fresh air. A few months ago, I realized that this is also the perfect opportunity to spend time with God. I have now gotten into the habit of using this time to just be thankful. I review my day and simply thank God for all the good things I have in my life. If you have the chance to do this each day, I highly recommend it. Even if you don’t have a dog, go for a walk by yourself. Actually, you won’t be by yourself, you will be with God! It is a great way to spend your time—it is refreshing on so many levels.
Yesterday during our evening walk, I had a revelation. (Stick with me now, it will take me a bit to get to the revelation.)
Now that the time has changed and it gets dark early, people tend to stay inside more. By the time I get home from work, change clothes, and have dinner, the walks we take are completely in the dark. Usually our neighborhood is teeming with kids running around and playing and a good number of adults are outside doing yardwork or are playing with their kids. We are blessed to have nice neighbors and I enjoy hearing the kids playing and having fun.
Yesterday was different. Now that it gets dark early, no one is outside much. And, yesterday it was a cold and rainy day. That means even fewer people are outside. (And, I don’t blame them. I prefer being inside where it is dry and warm too.)
By the time Clancey and I got outside for our walk our neighborhood felt deserted. It felt like we were the only two living creatures on the planet. I mean, I couldn’t hear birds or squirrels or even the wind pushing the leaves around. It was different from our norm.
As we made our way down the street, this peacefulness settled on me. Clancey, God bless him, must stop every ten feet to sniff the grass and bushes and flowers and mailboxes and dirt and rocks. (You get the idea.) Most of the time our walks feel more like a game of stop and go.
But, as we were stopped and as Clancey was sniffing, this beautiful peaceful feeling just came upon me. I mean, I felt like it literally grabbed me, it was so eye-opening. There was this permeating silence. It was eerie at first, almost other-worldly. I looked around and saw no-one and heard nothing. (Again, no birds, no squirrels, no wind, no cars from the nearby street, nothing!)
Being the music lover that I am, I immediately starting singing the lyrics to the Eagles song, “Peaceful Easy Feeling” in my head. Right after that though, I started to think about God, and it dawned on me, this stillness, this quietness, this peacefulness—it WAS God. I just knew it was Him in my gut. I got tears in my eyes. I immediately began thanking Him for making himself known and for such a beautiful, peaceful, breath-taking moment.
Then, I had another revelation: this peacefulness that I was experiencing, it was NOT just a momentary peacefulness—it a new place that I am in in my life! So, in other words, I had the realization that I am in a place in my life where I am at peace. I realized that even though I have my fair share of problems--and I have plenty, they don’t matter. Why? Because I have God. It is just that simple. Actually, it is so simple, it kind of blew me away to think about it.
Oddly enough, the lyrics to “Peaceful Easy Feeling” that ran through my head helped me to comprehend this. Some of the lyrics go:
I got a peaceful easy feelin'
And I know you won't let me down
'Cause I'm already standin'
On the ground
These lyrics made me think of God. Do they you?
God won’t let us down and He is the solid ground that we stand on. Plus, when we put Him first in our lives, He gives us peace.
I doubt that the Eagles had God in mind when they wrote these lyrics, but they fit God perfectly. Then this in turn, made me think of the hymn “The Solid Rock” by Edward Mote.
The refrain of this hymn goes:
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
If you believe in God and lean on Him in your life, you don’t have to worry about anything. He has you covered! It may be hard to believe, but it is true. I hope you will give yourself this amazing gift—the gift of knowing God and His peace. He isn’t called the Prince of Peace for nothing!
In my Christian walk with Jesus, I have been thinking a lot lately about how important it is to plant seeds. Not the kind for growing flowers or vegetables, although I would actually like to do that too, but the seeds that allow others to see Christ in me. These are the seeds of love, kindness, joy, and encouragement. By planting these seeds, my hope is to get others to see how wonderful and amazing Christ our Savior is. I want people to see Christ in me. I want to leave a good impression on people, thereby planting a seed.
Having this on my mind lately has also caused me to think of the parable of the sower. (It is also known as the parable of the four soils.) I love this parable because the four different types of soil represent different types of people. And, the older I get and the closer to God I get, the more I see these four different types of people in my life.
In the parable, Jesus shares with us that a sower scatters seeds, which fall on four different types of ground. The hard ground “along the path” prevents the seed from sprouting at all, and the seed becomes nothing more than bird food. The stony ground provides enough soil for the seeds to germinate and begin to grow, but because there is “no deepness of earth,” the plants do not take root and are soon withered in the sun. The thorny ground allows the seed to grow, but the competing thorns choke the life out of the beneficial plants. But, some seeds fall on the good soil and produces much fruit. (You can read about it in Matthew 13:3-9, Mark 4:2-9, and Luke 8:4-8.)
The meaning of the parable is transparent. (At least, I think so.) As children of God and for those of us who love Christ, we should be spreading the Word of God. We should be telling others about Him and the good news of His son, Jesus. We can start off by doing something simple; planting seeds of love, kindness, joy, and encouragement.
We can be like the sower in the parable and scatter seeds everywhere we go. We can, and should, be kind and caring to everyone we meet. (I know, I know, a lot easier said than done.) Some of these seeds that we disperse we land on hard, stony, or thorny ground. Sadly, and unfortunately, that is where most these seeds will land. But, some will find their way to fertile ground. Some will take hold and over time those seeds will take root, grow, and eventually produce an abundant crop!
And, because you can’t always tell what kind of “soil” a person has, that is precisely why you must sprinkle these seeds to everyone you meet. You never know which ones will take root. Plus, soil, like people, change. And, maybe, over time, that stony soil you planted that seed in will turn into fertile ground. You just never know. And, God has a way of doing that to people. (And, by that, I mean changing them!)
Sometimes rain comes along and washes the seed to a better location. Sometimes a cow comes along and poops all over the seed, therefore fertilizing it. I mean, think about it, most of us only change when something bad happens, when we face adversity, when we are face to face with a truly crappy situation. (This could be it the loss of a loved one, work or financial difficulty, serious health issues, or any combination of a million different things.) And, most of us only pray and seek God in these dark times in our lives. (You know it’s true!)
So, if we, Children of God, are out there in the world trying to make it better by showering it with seeds of love, kindness, joy, and encouragement, we are bound to hit some lush ground. And, for all those times when our seeds hit the hard, stony, and thorny ground, we just need to take heart because all these good seeds that we are throwing will allow us to sow good things in our own lives.
Remember, in Matthew 12:33 we are reminded that a tree is recognized by its fruit. I don’t know about you, but I want to be recognized by my good fruit. And, I think if we make a conscious effort to spread around the good seeds of Jesus Christ, people will see us for the good fruit we produce.
I hope you will join me in spreading some seeds of love, kindness, joy, and encouragement today!
Being an adult can be hard. Let me rephrase that, being a RESPONSIBLE adult IS hard. I often see a meme floating around Facebook that says something to the effect of, “What I miss most about being a kid is not paying bills.” I agree with this statement. Being a responsible adult means paying for everything from food and clothing, to a place to live and power and water. (And that is just the “essential” stuff.) And, this is just the tip of the proverbial “responsible adult” iceberg.
As a responsible adult, you must do things like hold down a job, keep food in the refrigerator, keep the house clean, and do yard work. Throw in some pets and/or kids in the mix and your responsibilities just quadrupled in size. With all these responsibilities weighing us down, it can be nice to daydream about being a kid again.
Go back with me won’t, you? I was blessed as a kid. I had a mom and a dad and younger brother. We had a nice house, plenty of food and clothes, and toys galore. Looking back, I can’t see one area in our lives in which we lacked. We had family and friends. We went to church. There was love surrounding us. I felt safe and secure. I honestly don’t remember worrying about anything. (At least nothing of any significance.) It doesn’t get much better than that.
Now, I know that this is not the case for everyone. And, if you are reading this and didn’t experience these things growing up, I am truly sorry. I hope that as an adult, your life has gotten better. (If not, I have some great news for you—it can get better! Once you invite Jesus into your life, He can and will make it better, if you allow Him to.)
For those of us who can look back on our childhoods with a sense of security and contentment, I have a question for you. Do you feel that sense of security and contentment today, as an adult? Answer truthfully now.
I have a feeling that a lot of you are like in me, in that your answer would depend on the day. Some days I do feel safe and secure and content, other days, not so much. I guess this is the joy of being an adult. (I hope you can pick up on the sarcasm in that last sentence.)
I am a music lover and enjoy music of all sorts and types. Right now, I am in a season of life where I LOVE Contemporary Christian music and my favorite radio station is the Joy FM. (If you haven’t listened to them, please do—you won’t regret it!) There is a great song that is in rotation right now by David Dunn called I Wanna Go Back. In this song, David sings about the simpler times when he was kid. It is a fun and upbeat song that always brings a smile to my face.
On Thursday afternoons on the Jayar Show, Jayar hosts “chats” with famous Christian people. Most of these are the very Contemporary Christian artists that fill the airwaves on the Joy FM. A few weeks ago, Jayar chatted with David Dunn. During their conversation, Jayar asked David about I Wanna Go Back and what the song is about. If you know the song, you probably had the same thought I did, it is about looking back on our youth and realizing what a much simpler time it was. And, I do think it is about that. However, David’s response had much more breadth and depth to it. And, when he shared it, I was taken aback.
David shared that what his song is about is going back to that carefree time as a child when we felt safe and secure, but that it was more than that. He talks about how in reality, our Heavenly father is the one who provides this safety and security. Our perception is incorrect. As kids, we feel like our parents are taking care of us and there are no worries. But, it isn’t our parents if for us, it is God. He says we tend to forgot about that aspect of Jesus. (The fact that He is the one who is taking care of us.)
Isn’t this an amazing revelation? It certainly was to me! I mean, I know this truth, but I never thought of it in these terms before. David uses such a great analogy to open our eyes. David wisely says, “Faith, in the purest form, is the same as it was when I was a little kid.”
The fact that God took care of not only me, but my parents and brother all those years ago, just drives the point home that He is taking care of me now. As an adult, on those days when I don’t necessarily feel like my life is all that safe and secure, I have no need to worry about it. I have Jesus and He will take superb care of me—just like He always has. Doesn’t this make you feel a whole lot lighter? Better? More free? I know it does me!
Growing up, I believe that most of us were taught to tell the truth. We were taught that lying was bad and that we should always be honest. As kids, we probably didn’t pay as much attention to this lesson as we should have. But, as adults, I hope you have learned by now that honesty really is the best policy. (Because, believe me, it really is the best policy!)
I think we have all heard the statement, “the truth will set you free”, but have you ever wondered what that statement was actually about? If you are NOT a child of God, you may have figured that it just went along with the “honesty is the best policy” teaching. And, while they do go together, there is a much more important and profound principle behind this statement. This is actually scripture; a Bible verse found in John chapter 8, verse 32. It says, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Do you know what the “truth” is? If not, please allow me to enlighten you. Jesus is the Truth. In the Bible, we learn that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. (See John 14:6) So, if you take John 8:32 and replace the word “truth” with “Jesus”, you get: Then you will know Jesus, and Jesus will set you free.
Jesus offers us freedom from the bondage of sin. It is a spiritual freedom. As humans, we are slaves to the sin in our lives. And, while we will always sin in this life, we do NOT have to be chained to it for eternity. When we believe in Jesus, He releases us from the yoke of sin.
When we become saved, that is when we believe in Jesus Christ and invite Him to live in our hearts, we become a new creation. 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new one has come!”
Once we start a relationship with God, we are fundamentally changed. We realize that our lives are no longer worldly, but are spiritual. And, while we will still sin, our hearts are changed and we become aware of our sinful nature, and therefore, we strive to sin less.
Each day that spend time with God, we grow as Christians. And, as we grow in Christ, we see the world differently. We start to see the world through the eyes of Christ. We start to care more for our fellow human beings. We start to become more kind and caring in general. And, we want others to come to know God, like we know Him. We start to realize that we have a purpose in life. And, that purpose is share the love of Jesus Christ.
So, the truth is, only Jesus can save us. And, once you know this “truth”, once you know Jesus, He will set you free! The truth is that God loved us so much that He sent His son to die on the cross for OUR sins. (See John 3:16) I believe that that is the most powerful truth in the world! And, once you know this truth, you are truly set free!
This past week I was cleaning out my old desk. After years of using one I bought from the thrift store, which was basically salvaged and painted, I came to my senses and decided to buy a nice, new, adult one. (The old one was rickety from the start and only got worse as the years went by. I was worried that it would collapse one day and take my iMac out along with it. Plus, I had painted it a funky blue with flowers and stuff on it. I loved it at the time, but looking at it now as an adult, it just wasn’t “me” anymore. I still love bright colorful stuff, but I have really grown up in my decorating tastes. And, my hubby couldn’t be happier about it! ...I digress…)
That old desk had three drawers that were packed full of stuff. Some things I kept, some I put in a box to donate, and some stuff I just threw away or recycled. I don’t know about you, but it makes me feel so accomplished to clean up and clean out stuff. I have realized that that old saying, “less is more” is so true!
Anyway, in cleaning out my old desk, I came across a two-page article that I had printed out four or five years ago. As I have relayed in a past post, I have struggled mightily with my “job journey”. Over the years, I have done a great deal of research, spent loads of time on the internet reading articles, taken various tests, read tons of books, and even had a job coach. (And, I am sad to say, spent and wasted lots of time and money in the process.) But, as I re-read this article, I knew that God led me to save it and come back across it for a reason—and I am so glad He did!
At the time, it obviously struck a chord with me—otherwise, why would I print it out, highlight a section, and save it? For whatever reason, I was not in a place in my life where I could process or use the great information that the article shared. But, I can sure use it now. Re-reading this article was like an epiphany. And, I am now in a place where I can use it. Thank you, Lord for allowing me to save it and come back across it when I needed it!
So, what was this article about, you ask? Well, in a nutshell, a lady wrote into Human Workplace (a fabulous website, btw. I highly recommend you check it out.) asking for advice about her career. She was in a bad situation at work she wanted out of and was looking for advice and help to figure out her next move. Liz Ryan, from Human Workplace, responded with this: (This is the part I highlighted, because it really hit home with me.)
The key is to always be moving toward something, not escaping from something. What we find when we try to escape a bad situation is that no escape is possible, because until we figure out where we're headed and why, we most often find that whatever we've escaped to is no better (and sometimes worse) than whatever situation we left.
From your lips to God’s ear, Liz. I have job hopped so much in my life, you might as well call me Frogger. The reason(s) why have always been because I wanted to escape from something; be it a bad boss, a bad workload, a bad commute, or just an overall bad work environment. For the longest time, I was just looking to get out of a bad situation, to escape. And, I had no idea how to focus on where I was headed. (Mainly because I didn’t know where I wanted to go, much less how to get there.)
All I know is I just wanted out of the current bad situation, or as I refer them, toxic environments. And, just as Liz stated above, I always ended up in a situation that was just as bad, if not worse, than the one I left. I was basically in this horrible vicious cycle. I would go from one bad job to another to another. It was maddening and at times I felt like I was losing my sanity. It had gotten to the point where I had given up hope for ever finding anything even half-way decent.
However, about six months ago, an idea popped into my head. It is an idea that I would never have had, had I not been on this job journey. And, while I don’t want to share the specifics with you right now, I will say that it is an idea that I have been working on for the last six months. It is something I have a passion for. It is something that energizes me and excites me. It is something that I can use my God-given talents on. It is something that I can focus on and it is giving me the much-needed direction in my life that I crave job-wise. And, the bonus, for me, is that it is something that God put into my heart and mind.
So, I just wanted to share a little encouragement with you today. If you don’t know where you are headed in your job, or in any aspect of your life for that matter, start thinking about what gives you joy. Then, start thinking of ways you can do that activity more. Or, in the case of a job, if you can turn that activity into a way to generate income. Then, go after it. As Nike always tells us, "just do it".
Pray a lot. Talk to God. Take steps each day towards what you want. Even tiny, little baby steps. Forward progress is forward progress. Start thinking positively and write everything down. Whatever idea you have, right it down. I believe that keeping a notebook is so helpful. It allows you to remember things and stay on track. Share your thoughts and ideas with someone you love and trust. Let them help guide you and cheer you on. You need to do these things. Trust me on this!
Two crucial elements of this whole thing is to: 1) pray and trust God and 2) move forward towards something. (Don't always be escaping from something.)
Honestly, I think the most vital aspect it to put God first in your life. When you start spending more time with Him, talking to Him and thanking Him for all of your blessings, He starts to really show up more and more in your life. At least, He has in mine. And, God wants to play an active part in our lives each day. God desires a relationship with us. And, when you develop that relationship, you will notice more and more the blessings flowing around you from God. It is the most beautiful thing ever! Please don't miss out on it.
I hope and pray that you find this information as useful as I have. Now, go get out there and start working your way towards something wonderful!
Yesterday was a pretty great day. Why? Because, I had the pleasure of helping a friend of mine. She is looking to change career paths and needed some help updating her resume. I offered my services, as I have done a great deal of this sort of thing myself. (If you look at my career history of job-hopping, you will understand why I am a quasi-expert on it.)
I spent my lunch hour re-working her resume—updating it and, hopefully, turning it into a personal branding document that will land her a job in her dream field. I didn’t do anything other than put some skills and knowledge that I already had to good use. And, I just gave her the framework and explained to her how to fill it in for herself. To me, it wasn’t a big deal. But, to her, it was. She told me that she couldn’t thank me enough. I told her to use it to get the job she really wants, and that that would-be thanks enough. And, I meant it too.
I spent the rest of the day feeling pretty good about myself. And, it was all because I helped a kind person who needed it.
Then, this morning, as I was reading my Bible and doing my daily devotional, I came across a verse that made me stop and think. It was Psalm 21:6 which says, “Surely you have granted him unending blessings and made him glad with the joy of your presence.” When I read that, a huge smile spread across my face and I laughed to myself a little. By spending time reading my Bible, I was spending time with God. And—this is the kicker—I made Him glad. I made Him glad. I. Made. HIM. Glad.
Just by doing something that I have gotten into the habit of doing anyway, I made God glad. I gave him joy. This is an amazing revelation to me. As I sit and think about it as I type this, it makes me want to cry. Just knowing that by doing something as simple as reading my Bible brings God joy, well, that’s truly something!
As I look back over my life, even as recently as yesterday, and probably especially because of yesterday, I have realized that giving joy to others makes me happy. Helping others, makes me happy. And, nothing could mean more in the world than to give joy to our maker, Christ our Father.
So, I am here today to tell you that you need to give it a try. Try helping others. Try reading your Bible. Try spending more time with God. Try to follow in God’s footsteps by loving others as you love yourselves. Luke 6:38 tells us, "Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full--pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back." Isn't this wonderful?! Thank you, Lord!
This is God’s will for us! And, trust me when I tell you, when you give to others, you get happiness for yourself in return. Now that is a great deal, if you ask me!
But, don’t just take my word for it. Here are some great articles to read that drive this point home:
I am a girl who loves God. My goal here is to simply share His love and light and any good thing that I come across.