Blessings Indeed

View at dusk Indianapolis

The view from our hotel room–Indianapolis at dusk

 

 

Tom and I have just come back from the International Gideons Convention that was held in Indianapolis, Indiana. People were there from over 90 countries from around the world. One of the things I love about convention is meeting and getting to know folks from countries that are so different from my own—and hearing of the difficulties many are facing with faith, courage, and perseverance.

As I listened to how God is working, especially in countries where it is hard and even dangerous, to be a Christian, it made me uncomfortable and sometimes ashamed to be a Christian in America. I thought of Luke 12:48: “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.” I have been given so much and was reminded of my responsibility!

In my last blog, I shared my experience of packing food aid for Syrian refugees. The prayer of my heart is that I will be more mindful of the ways I can make a difference for the Lord and for this hurting world. I don’t ever want to take for granted how much I have been blessed. With that in mind, here are just a few of my recent blessings:

    • Hosting Jean Marc, a gentleman from France for two nights in our home and getting to know him

      Jean Marc 2 (2)

      Tom and Me with Jean Marc

    • Having more food available than I could possibly want or eat
    • The availability of fresh, clean water to drink
    • Being in air-conditioning, protected from the dangerous and excessive heat we were experiencing
    • The view from our hotel room
    • Having dinner with Glen, our new friend from Jamaica
    • Celebrating the two-year-anniversary of my miraculous healing (July 24)
    • The hospitality of Tom’s sister and her husband, Barb and Roy
    • The beauty and peacefulness of their home on a lake
    • That I was able to do these things freely and without fear of attack or fear for my safety

I could bore you by going on and on, but I think you get the picture. I am especially thankful for the blessing of refreshment this time away offered me. And now, it’s time to get back to work to change the world in whatever way I can from my humble home in Pennsylvania.

The most important thing I can do is to treat everyone I meet with love and respect, no matter who they are, no matter their circumstances, no matter their beliefs. If we all acted this way in our own corner of the world, we would make a difference. Smiles and love ARE contagious! Will you join me in doing this?

 

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God + Gifts = Joy and Thankfulness

Like most people, I have been encouraged at various points in my life to keep a thankfulness journal. Being the office and school supply nerd that I am, I could never start one until I’d located the perfect blank book and pen. I’d begin eagerly enough, but before long the delight with my stupendous stationary and the enthusiasm of tracking what I was thankful for at the end of each day dwindled until the entries stopped. I always wondered why I found this so difficult to do. My personality is of the glass-half-full variety, and I’ve been blessed with what Rachel Carson calls “the sense of wonder”.

One day, I picked up a book by Ann Voskamp entitled One Thousand Gifts, knowing nothing about it. Her beautiful use of language and unique way of expressing ideas drew me in immediately. What she wrote not only made the light bulb go on for me, but was life-changing. When sharing with a friend her struggle to cultivate joy, despite recognizing her many blessings and being thankful for them, this friend gave Ann a challenge: make a list of one thousand gifts God has given you.

That last phrase reverberated in my mind and heart–gifts God has given you. Gifts. God. Has. Given. You. GIFTS GOD HAS GIVEN YOU! This simple shift in semantics was transformational. Instead of thankfulness being about me, what was I thankful for, now became what God has given me. And so I started another journal.

Now that my focus was on God and the gifts that are all around me, my list grew and grew. I couldn’t wait to find the treasures God would put in front of me each day. Some items were simple, such as snuggling with my dog on the couch, the scent of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies, or the finch watching me from the underside of my living room awning. And some were more complex–marveling at the wonder of my salvation, God’s grace in a moment of weakness, or a new revelation into a verse of scripture.

And what I discovered was that I became filled with joy by seeing God’s hand in every aspect of my life which then triggered a deep sense of gratitude.

I no longer struggle to record in my journal. Some days my problem becomes not being able to STOP recording gifts–indeed, a good “problem” to have! It proves once again that when we focus on God instead of ourselves, we open ourselves to being filled with God’s joy and in turn, we respond with praise and thankfulness.

“Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul; and forget not (one of) all His benefits.” Psalm 102:2 (Amplified)

“Let those who delight in my righteousness shout for joy and be glad” Psalm 35:27a

(Check out Ann Voskamp’s wonderful inspirational blog, A Holy Experience It also contains information about her book One Thousand Gifts.)

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