Categories
The Overcomer Life

Allowing Gratitude to be Present

Life has a way of becoming increasingly interesting these days. With Summer over and now we are almost in Winter, I am still waiting/looking for the better days – as far as my health is concerned. I have my days that are marked by their difference, in comparison to where I was last year. This year is looking quite different. The bad days make it different, but there is good present as well. It just takes a while and serious focus, to note the good.

Gratitude is what allows us to turn our moments of sorrow into times of dancing and joy – even in the midst of suffering.

The good, being – seeing how God’s work continues on. I am looking to work on my blog over the coming weeks/months, as I feel able to. We are getting ready to kick off our new study. It will begin in January, so I am working toward fixing what will be the journal (which will be available for purchase on Amazon) for the particular study. It will be a bit less demanding, to help me to stay caught up on it (but very similar to what we have been doing). But, I am really looking forward to it. It will be such a wonderful time of digging into God’s Word together – as a community of believers. More to come on the study soon.

The bad – well, that is hitting kind of close to home. You don’t expect family members to be in a place, where their doctor suspects they have your number 1 health enemy. In fact, you hope they won’t ever be in that position. Then, it happens. Loved ones become sick with the same illness that plagues us. It’s hard to look at it any other way, than joking. It’s not really the kind of things to joke around about, but it helps the soul to not feel the sorrow over the difficulties you know – that your loved ones will face.

Yet, you remember that all you can do is keep them in prayer, be there for them, speak encouragement over them, and deliberately look for the good in your life. Find the really good things you can rejoice over!

Finding the Good

With chronic illness, you take the bad with the good. Is there honestly good found in chronic illness? I think so. I think, it can produce good. But, it isn’t going to be automatically on our minds – before the bad is. You have to be deliberate in seeking out the good.

We have to be deliberate in seeking out the things we can be grateful for!

The R E A L L Y  Good Stuff

(1) While my health may fail me on any given day, my God still reigns. Even on the most difficult days, God is still God, faithful, strong enough, and ever loving!

See Ps. 73:26

(2) We can be there, comfort, and remind others they aren’t alone in their struggles. Also, we can be a voice that fights for our family members. God has used my health journey, to help those around me who develop similar symptoms and I can offer help of some sort.

See 2 Cor. 1:3-4; Phil. 4:4

(3) God has chosen to go before me. He has fixed our broken relationship, by the way of the cross and His Resurrection. He understands my weaknesses, and helps me – so I can come boldly to Him!

See Heb. 4:14-16

Categories
Spiritual Disciplines

Choosing Jesus: Thanksgiving Edition 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

Today, is Thanksgiving. We know there is one big component that should characterize our day – our week. Giving Thanks. In other words, joy. gratitude. celebration. coming together in unity with our loved ones. These would sum up the past three weeks of spiritual disciplines –

Celebration

Gratitude

Holy Communion

How can we go about our week in such a way, where our hearts can experience honest thanksgiving and building the community God placed us in?

One word for us, today: intentionality. Let’s be intentional, as God places us in community, allows us to experience things in which we can be thankful for, and we taste the sweet provision of our great God.

Why?

God has given us much! We may not have what our hearts’ desire, but God has gifted us with so much. Much of what we have, we are undeserving of. Instead of letting our heats be dominated by greed, we need to allow thanksgiving to cultivate in our hearts.

As I write this, I am reminded of one particular verse.

This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Ps. 118:24, NASB)

Rejoice.

Gladness.

These both require us to do something. They are verbs, but gladness (and rejoicing) doesn’t just happen! We must be intentional. As we go about our lives, and the holidays, let’s be people who choose gratitude versus the disease of greed.

Benefits

Choose thanksgiving. Choose community over being alone. Invite others into your life, so God can use you in their midst. Choose to celebrate God’s work in your life. Even if He isn’t doing things the way you want, choose Him and thanksgiving over His work in your midst. Choose to be thankful about all the things He is doing, that you just can’t seem to wrap your head around. Choose to celebrate that He works differently and better than you ever could. Remember the truth of Proverbs 3:5-6.

Activity

Choose to take time this week, to stop and look at your life. Look at your life with God in Jesus Christ. Can you honestly say, “my life is hidden in God”? Or, have you allowed other things to crowd Him out?

During the holidays, these things have a way of “showing up”. Especially as we think about “Black Friday” sales and deals. We begin the process of thinking we need stuff we really don’t need.

Keep Christ first.

Not just this season.

But every single day.

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory. (Col. 3:2-4, NRSV)

So kill your earthly impulses: loose sex, impure actions, unbridled sensuality, wicked thoughts, and greed (which is essentially idolatry).  It’s because of these that God’s wrath is coming [upon the sons and daughters of disobedience], so avoid them at all costs. (Col. 3:5-6, VOICE)

Categories
Spiritual Disciplines

Choosing Jesus: Gratitude

A-Thankful-Heart

After a few weeks hiatus, this is the week we return to our “Choosing Jesus” series. This is the second spiritual discipline in our Sabbath series, which is on gratitude. It is only nature that gratitude would proceed celebration. These two disciplines really go together.

While it is November, gratitude isn’t reserved for solely this time of year. We are called to be thankful – “delight[ing] in God and his good will” year long. Delighting in God, is described as “the heartbeat of thankfulness (Spiritual Disciplines Handbook).”

We all have been around others who are either incredibly thankful or a chronic complainer. We need to consider, which kind of person we want to be.

Do we want our hearts to be filled up with bitterness or God and thanksgiving for what He is doing?.

I have refused the gift of gratitude for most of my life. Even my adult life. God is showing me a different way – “the path of life (Ps. 16:11),” where we are given the opportunity to experience God’s Presence and the joy He offers to us. It’s not anything like this world could ever afford. God’s joy is real-and-long-lasting. Our circumstances may not vanish in an instance, but we will begin to realize that we can be happy despite our circumstances.

Gratitude as a discipline involves a conscious choice. I can choose to be grateful even when my emotions and feelings are still steeped in hurt and resentment. ~ Henri Nouwen

As we endure our high and low days of life, we can choose to be thankful people. Even when circumstances unforeseen enter our lives, we have much to praise God for.

Why We Can Express Gratitude

We can express thanksgiving, because of our intimate relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ. We can rejoice and express thanksgiving – because:

  1. God has not left us (see Deut. 31:6; Jn. 14:18).
  2. His joy is within our reach, through His Son Jesus (see Hebrews 12:1-2).
  3. Others around us, act as a spark to help us learn what gratitude looks like (see Prov. 27:17).

It’s about delighting in Him, not how good life seems to flow.

Its Benefits

There are several benefits of developing a thankful heart. Let me try and list a few, for us all, to meditate on this Sabbath.

  1. Pleasure: God is not the only One who gets pleasure from our spirit of gratitude. We are tremendously blessed, when a light switch in our spirit is turned on – and we go from “complainer” to “the thankful person” (see Neh. 8:10; Prov. 21:19).

    This is the Holy Spirit’s work on our lives (see Gal. 5:22-23) – and a result of the Romans 12:1-2 kind of transformation God wants to do in us.

  2. Promises: It doesn’t just give us pleasure. It helps us to get God’s prospective on things in our lives. We learn God means what He says, when He promises to take care of us – and strengthen us (see 2 Chron. 16:9).
  3. Perspective: We learn not to take circumstances at a face value, because God is working on our behalf. God is changing our hearts, as we make the choice to follow Him and resolve to let His joy become our own – despite our circumstances (see Col. 3:1-2).

Question

I love this question that is listed in the Spiritual Disciplines Handbook:

How has a grateful person affected your own vision of what matters in life? How has someone who lives out of bitterness affected your life?

Activity

Finally, we come to the one thing that will help us move toward a thankful heart. This is the place where we don’t just talk about gratitude, but choose to live it out.

Take time to focus on what kinds of things help you to give thanksgiving to God. Do you know anyone who reflects a truly thankful spirit who is firmly rooted in Christ Jesus? Focus on building into your daily life a thankful heart, and watch for ways that can flow out of you onto the community He has given you.

Categories
Chronic Illness Uncategorized

1/15/15 – Sustained

Posted on January 15, 2015

What a blessing that I am more of a writer than speaking. Then when I am in the middle of a Trigeminal Neuralgia attack, my psyche isn’t highly offended when I become nonverbal due to pain. I am thankful that TN often is quiet. It may be not be quiet today, but it could be so much worse!

This disease, TN, is why I avoid triggering. Things like eating and blinking (don’t underestimating it) may be non-negotiable, but many others are. I have several triggers for TN, and often do avoid those things. When TN started about 7 years ago, the pain was horrible. I am so thankful for remission, that very few get to experience. God has been so good to me, and has been my ever-present help every step of the way. He’s good – even when the zaps continue to come on… I am thankful for the reminder of how blessed I am. Many with TN experience pain far worse than I do on my worst day. Unlike most with TN, I don’t have to change to a “soft food” diet very often. I am today, but it is rare.

I have Atypical Trigeminal Neuralgia. Meaning, different branches can be affected. The pain itself can vary in severity and where it is, because it is Atypical and not classic – type 1 TN. I am thankful it is only on one side of my face today. I know God has been taking care of me all day long, and He will continue to do so.

We need to pray for those suffering with TN. It is very difficult to face a disease of this magnitude and remain hopeful.

Categories
*Secret Glimpses Thanksgiving

Confession: I am a Food Hoarder!

celebrate GodHaving many food allergies and restrictions, it is fairly easy to enter a “woe is me” state of mind. It can be easy to see what others have, that I just can’t have. It doesn’t mean I don’t celebrate what I can have. It just affects my spirit to see what my body cannot handle (and those needed restrictions). It can be harder to find food that I can have in a standard grocery store.

Meaning: When I find something that I can have and it’s not ridiculously expensive, I stock up.

Like crazy.
I stock up like crazy.
Some people hoard clothes.
I hoard food. Specialized food. Friendly food.

Quite honestly, I never would of guessed how it would affect me emotionally to have such food restrictions.

It can be really hard to cope with that, but I do. It is by God’s grace that I cope. God through His Holy Spirit consoles me, and helps me. God fulfills His promise to me in Isaiah 41:10 where it says, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand”. This is why I can celebrate what I can have, instead of the long list of my current food restrictions. Hard things that are found –everywhere – and in everything.

I don’t want to focus on what I can’t have, so I am not throwing that list here. I think it would just enable a sense of what I want to avoid- that pity I or others may feel. I want to be about celebrating. Not just today, but every day.

Instead, I want to celebrate gratitude.
Gratitude for what I can have.
Gratitude for my food stash.
Choosing an attitude of gratitude, because my overflowing cabinets are filled with food for just me to eat and enjoy.
Gratitude for the simple fact that I have never ran out of food.

Today, I began to clean off counters, rearrange things, and organize my food stash a little bit. I finished what I thought was all of my flour yesterday.

*Start to panic*
It’s naturally, right?

Anyway, the more cleaned off our counters, the more I would find.
Here is just the upper part of my gluten-free cabinet, for just my food.

gluten free flours

God has blessed me tremendously!
Now, I still need all purpose flour.
Meaning: I need to restock on rice flour, tapioca starch, and potato starch.
But, I am tremendously blessed for what I do have!