When it’s hard to be thankful

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BeThankful

 When it is hard to be thankful……

Have you ever experienced a time in life like that? I know I have. In fact, I originally started writing this this post, a few days ago when I was going through some of the hardest challenges I’ve ever faced, and wanted to give up. I even had a melt down for a few days and started to lose my faith. But I shook that off and  I know these challenges will pass with the healing power of time and with the sustenance of God’s goodness, but others of them may lingered, and I will keep trusting and believing.  I wanted to write this post, in hopes that it will in some way breathe a encouragement of life into someone who is struggling now themselves. If you’ve feel that this post is for you, I’d love to hear from you. Leave your comment below so I can be praying for you!

 

We’re told that even in hard times to be thankful.  It’s a time to reflect, and to consider all the ways we’ve been blessed.  It’s a time to give our gratitude to God for our families, our home, and our health and our freedoms.  To count our blessings and hold close the ones we love. I appreciate that perspective, because I think that there is a lot to be said about a heart of gratitude.  It’s important to take the time to thank God for all that is good in our life, and there is so much power in perspective. 

 

But what if giving thanks means more than just counting our blessings?

 

What if being thankful meant surrendering our struggles, too?

As much as I want to be thankful for all the good this year so far, if I’m completely honest- this has been one of the hardest years of my life and it has just begun!   It’s come with a lot of trials, a lot of tears, and a lot of pain.  As I look back on this last month, even some of the greatest joys have been rooted in moments of deep suffering.

I know I am not alone in my struggles.

I can’t possibly begin to tell you about the countless emails I’ve received recently, as well as the numerous conversations I’ve had with people who are going through some really hard times.  Men and women struggling with loneliness, addictions, and anxiety. Depression, illness, and death.  Divorce, infertility, and injustice.  People struggling to deal with one hard thing or another.  Broken hearts, confused minds, hurting bodies.

 

Life can be so hard.  And sometimes, God can seem so very far away.

For many people, the holidays that just past were not filled with thanksgiving and cheer, because instead, they’re filled with pain and suffering.

They’re filled with the gnawing, aching reminder of what was lost–or what never was.

Through the hard times, the most profound lesson I’m learning involves redefining of my definition of Thanksgiving.  I am challenged to be more than just “thankful”.

I am challenged to do something even more difficult–I’m challenged trust.

I am proclaiming right now that in times of suffering, a heart of gratitude means more than just saying “thank you”- it means believing that God is who He says He is.  Believing that He is good, that He is love, and that He is for me.  Believing that He never changes, that He never fails, and that He is working all things for what is good.

Whatever it is you are struggling through right now, may this be a reminder of God’s everlasting faithfulness for your life.

No matter what it is you are going through: He has brought you this far, and He won’t leave you now.

Whatever it is that is weighing on your heart and burdening your mind, be reminded that though you don’t understand the reason- there is a loving God that does, and He is walking by your side every step of the way.  He will never leave you, and He never has.

His plans for your life may include weeping for a moment, but joy will always come in the morning.

No matter what it is that we’re going through- I believe with all of my heart that if we knew what God knows, we would want to be exactly in this time and exactly in this place.  As hard as it may be, there is no better nor safer place to be than smack-dab in the middle of His good, pleasing, and perfect will.  Because He knows best and there is no plan greater than His plan for our life.

 

Life doesn’t always turn out how we expect it to, but it turns out just right.  I look back at the struggles of my past in light of who I am today, and I see God’s hand and purposes every step of the way.  He has brought us this far, and He won’t leave us now.

This is all part of a bigger picture- a picture far more beautiful, lovely, and perfect than we could ever begin to dream of.

 

The more thankful one is, the more there is to be thankful for. A person cannot be complaining and thankful at the same time, nor can they worry about money or health or anything while being thankful. To dwell on political or economic woes, international crises, personal problems, or even someone else’s problems, will invite irritability, confusion, mistrust, disgust, depression, a sense of helplessness, hopelessness and futility.

Better to stop and take into consideration what and who is truly valuable in one’s life. There is always something to be thankful for. “Better a handful with quietness than both hands full, together with toil and grasping for the wind.” (Ecclesiastes 4:6)

Life is not all about accumulation of things. He who dies with the most money or the most toys, still dies. No one can take their friends or their collections with them to the grave. Job, in Job 1:21 said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.”)

A very well-grounded perspective. Solomon repeated the truth in Ecclesiastes 5:15. “As he came from his mother’s womb, naked shall he return, to go as he came; and he shall take nothing from his labor which he may carry away in his hand. Jesus asked the rhetorical question, “Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25) And Jesus taught clearly in Luke 12:15 to “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”

It’s settled then. Life is more than food and clothes and houses and cars and stuff. Life for the Christian is about loving God and loving others, and introducing people to the Lord Jesus Christ. People are to be loved and things are to be used, and never the opposite. All things considered, life is precious and fleeting and fragile, and it behooves believers to take time often and just be thankful. Make a list of things to be thankful for if necessary, but part of obeying God’s Word is taking time for thanksgiving.

Many verses in the Bible teach God’s people to be thankful, regardless of circumstances. No matter how unpleasant a situation becomes, it is good to remember that it could always be worse.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Colossians 3:17)

Memorizing verses such as those preceding can be a tremendous help when tempted to be unthankful. Remembering that unthankfulness leads to hardness of heart, which leads to bitterness and unbelief, may serve as a deterrent to being unthankful. Hebrews 13:5 presents a beautiful and balanced way of thinking, and serves as a reminder of what and Who is truly important. “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’”

This year, may you and I be challenged to trust God more, to believe Him better, and to know Him deeper.  His heart is good, His love is pure, His plans are magnificent.  Whether we feel it or not, it doesn’t cease to be true.

May you be challenged to be more than thankful this year…as you lay down your pain and problems at His feet–and choose to trust Him again.  Grace and peace to you, dear one, as you learn to rest in the arms of a loving God.

 

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Forgive and give as if it were your last opportunity. Because do we really know if the one we love will be there tomorrow? Love like there’s no tomorrow, cherish today, reveal in the moment and bury the memory in your heart and mind. It may be all you have left someday………and if tomorrow comes, love again and gain and again!

With today being Valentine day I thought I would post some wonderful verses about love.  They are worth reading, worth thinking about and maybe help put things in perspective. Yes they are from the bible, but you don’t have to be Christian to get the message. I hope everyone has a blessed day! Tell those you love, you love them, whether its your significant other, your children, parents, siblings, best friend and so on! Tell them all! We really are not much without love! Nurture it, cherish it! Be blessed, be loved!

I Corinthians 13:4-7

“Love is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud. Love is never haughty or selfish or rude. Love does not demand it’s own way. Love is not irritable or touchy. Love does not hold grudges and will hardly notice when others do it wrong. Love is never glad about injustice, but rejoices whenever truth wins out. If you love someone, you will be loyal to them no matter what the costs. You will always believe in them, always expect the best in them, and will always stand your ground in defending them.”

I Corinthians 13:1-13 (Alternate Version to the previous quote)

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor, and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast; it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails.  But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.  When I was a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.  For now we see but a poor reflection as in mirror.  Then we shall see face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.  And now these three remain:  faith, hope, and love, but the greatest of these is love.

Song of Solomon – Chapter 2:10-13
My lover spoke and said to me, “Arise my darling, my beautiful one,
and come with me.
See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone.
Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come.
The cooing of doves is heard in our land.
The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.
Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.”

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their toil.
For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him who is alone when
he falls and has not another to lift him up. Again, if two lie together,
they are warm; but how can one be warm alone? And though a man
might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him.

Colossians – Chapter 3:12-19
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved,
clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility,
gentleness and patience.
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances
you may have against one another.
Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them
all together in perfect unity.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,
since as members of one body you were called to peace.
And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you
teach and admonish one another with all wisdom,
and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with
gratitude in your hearts to God.
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him.

 

 

 

Goodnight

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TonightAsYouLayDown

Tonight as you lay down to sleep may you look back at all the beauty that God has given. Even through the darkest of times we will Praise God for giving us Life~ For each thing we go through will test our faith~ May you stay strong and safe~

Tam:)

The Problem Is You

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Maybe it’s not The Man. Maybe it’s not the system. Or your deadbeat dad. Or the stuck-up bitches you went to high school with. Or the bank. Or the Kardashians. Or microwave radiation. Maybe the problem really is you.

No one wants to face that. Everyone wants to be unique, but not so unique that you’ll be forced to admit that you are problem. So your life sucks on all fronts, but when you compare each of the situations, the only thing they have in common is that you’re smack dab in the middle of them. You with your impatience, your timidity, your pessimism, your impulsiveness, your ego, your self-blaming ways.  It’s a hard and humbling realization to come to. Maybe you haven’t caused your current predicament, but your actions and thought processes have surely encouraged/nurtured/sustained/supported it.  Things fell apart, but you didn’t bother to put them back together. You just grabbed the next toy off the shelf and were surprised when it eventually broke, too. But there comes a time when you have to look at the patterns, crunch the numbers, draw some #$%^@ Venn diagrams and confront the possibility that the one thing out of all the crappy things that you have direct and enduring control over is you.

Maybe the next time you throw out the old “It’s not you, it’s me” excuse, you’ll spare a moment to consider that it might have more truth to it than you think.

manmirror

 

Puzzle Pieces

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Imagine a giant puzzle formed of thousands of pieces of all shapes, color and forms but when put together they form the most beautiful image you have ever seen, by themselves each piece seems to have no meaning but together they become something greater than themselves…that is exactly how humanity looks. We all come from different walks of life, we are all different colors and shapes we all are here for a reason and to serve a purpose we all are interconnected and together we all could be like that beautiful picture from the puzzle…we are not here by chance we belong together and we are all part of something greater than ourselves…..

Be Blessed,

Tam:)

diversity

My Upward Spiral Out of Anxiety

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Over the years, I have occasionally struggled with low-grade anxiety. It’s my body’s initial response when I get stressed, exhausted or insecure, or when there is a lot of busyness or change. Although I’ve learned many tools to help me enter into a place of emotional peace, somehow anxiety always comes back to haunt me.

The root of my anxiety is often a critical spirit that sees negative circumstances around every corner. Then my fears kick in, and I start feeling indecisive about important decisions, which leads to procrastination. And then before you know it, each drop of negativity, procrastination and frustration accumulates into a rushing river of anxious despair. But recently, God did something unexpected when I started drowning in anxiety, and I’m still in awe.

A few days ago, I was at an ultimate low after experiencing two weeks of continuous anxiety in a way I had not suffered in years. I repeatedly asked God to deliver me, and as I talked about it with him, then I thought of something I have mentioned many times before: gratitude.

If you would’ve asked me if I was a grateful person, I would’ve said yes, and I could’ve easily named numerous things for which I was grateful. Nonetheless, I still carried anxiety and negativity about the things I struggled with, and I did not bear the fruit of peace or confidence.

My own voice in my head said, “I think Satan is trying to get you to focus on the few things you don’t have so that you won’t see all the gifts God has given you — just like he did with Eve in the garden.” Then I thought I would name things I am grateful for that about things I don’t like, such as;  naming 15 things I am grateful for about driving to my meetings.” I realize that challenge may not sound like a big deal, but at the time, I was spending at least two hours in traffic one way going to this meeting — it stressed me out a lot, and I hated it.

I thought 15 was an exorbitant number, but I tried it. And although it was hard to get to 15, I did it. I then decided to list things I was thankful for in other areas I had been complaining about. And by the end of the exercise, I was laughing and felt much lighter in my mind, body and spirit.

The next day, I thought, “I feel like something happened in my brain last night when I did that exercise.” I felt physically, mentally and emotionally different. The nightmarish anxiety I was feeling had lifted and was gone.

I’ve not only felt like myself again since that night, but I’ve felt more light-hearted and peaceful. And almost every day, I’ve been listing multiple things for which I’m thankful. I’ve also read various articles that reference brain research on gratitude. For example, in the book, The Upward Spiral neuroscience researcher Alex Korb lists gratitude as one of the most important things you can do to produce the upward spiral of happiness in your life. According to Korb, gratitude boosts dopamine and serotonin in the way Prozac and antidepressants do.

The Bible tells us to give thanks again and again, so we shouldn’t be surprised to learn that gratitude is good for us. Let’s look at the Word and consider the power of thanksgiving:

  • Thanksgiving is a way to enter into the very presence of God.Psalm 95:2 (ESV) says, “Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving.”
  • Thanksgiving can turn scarcity into abundance. In Matthew 14:13-21, Jesus gave thanks for the meager five loaves of bread and the two fish that were somehow supposed to feed 5,000 hungry people. After He thanked His Father for the food, it multiplied and fed everyone, with baskets of food left over.
  • Thanksgiving protects your heart and mind. Practicing gratitude has brought healing to my life. And no wonder — Philippians 4:6tells us, “[D]o not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Galatians 5:25 says, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.”

Gratitude is a way to that.  It’s like a march alongside God that helps us walk in faith and see what God is doing all around us. So let’s approach our lives in a posture of gratitude and watch in wonder as those overwhelming rivers of anxiety finally start to run dry.

Blessings,

Tam:)