Have you ever gone out of your way to do something nice for someone, only to have them reject it? Or even worse, criticize you for it? Or perhaps someone wanting a favor came and demanded it of you, instead of asking nicely. Doesn’t feel very good, does it? Continue reading
A Lesson in Gratitude
Have you noticed that God never wastes an opportunity to make us more like Him?
My latest lesson was last week, on New Year’s Eve. I’d been in bed since the day after Christmas with some sort of cold or flu. I had a fever, complemented by a disgusting runny nose and a side order of aches and pains. My head felt as if I’d inhaled a buffalo, which was aggressively beating its huge head against the insides of my sinuses. My headache throbbed in time with my pulse. I had to squeeze my eyes shut against the pressure every time I cleared my throat.
Needless to say, there would be no parties for me that evening. Pete offered to stay home too, to feed me chicken soup and hot tea. What a sweetie.
But godliness with contentment is great gain. (1 Timothy 6:6)
Hopefully you’ve enjoyed both your Thanksgiving feast and your relatives, and are now happily munching on turkey sandwiches. It’s time to move on from being thankful to shopping for gifts intended to make one another even more thankful next year. After all, if we appreciate having some possessions, then we’ll appreciate have additional possessions even more.
Pete and I have been praying about downsizing for several years now, but hesitated to market our house in the languishing economy. Well, one morning last month we both woke up sensing it was time to take some steps. We spent our next couple of “date days” looking at model homes, driving up and down new neighborhoods, and doing due diligence on several prospective builders. Finally we picked out a “good enough” house we liked, and a “good enough” lot owned by a “good enough” builder in a nice new development. We were ready to sign on the dotted line.
Be Thankful for More than Turkey
Thanksgiving. More and more, we’re calling it “Turkey Day.” Is Thanksgiving a holiday about eating as much turkey, stuffing, and pie as we can possibly handle? Has this holiday, like so many others, become so fixed on staying busy, keeping up our traditions, watching football, and buying stuff that we’re missing the point?
For the past few years my dad wasn’t well enough to travel, so we hosted Thanksgiving at our house. We invited friends, family, whoever needed a place to land, and I cleaned and shopped and cooked. Numbers varied, but we usually ended up with a dozen guests crowded around our table built for six. Somehow we made it work.
A June Thanksgiving
What are you thankful for? We usually ask that question in November, and here it is June. More often than the answer includes our family, our friends, our good (if it is good) health, perhaps a special possession or two.
After a week or more of evacuations, fire, and loss, many here are incredibly grateful to God, and to the firefighters and other first responders who risked their lives on our behalf. Everywhere you look, there are signs of thanksgiving. I mean that literally.
A friend of mine recently commented about how, with Thanksgiving coming, she is trying to learn to thank God even for “the hard stuff.” She’s basing her belief on 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, which says “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
There’s no doubt that Christians are supposed to be a grateful people. There is so much to thank God for—his love, mercy, righteousness and goodness, our salvation, one another, his coming reign on earth, answered prayers, not to mention the endless blessings he bestows on us day by day, often ones we hadn’t even thought to ask for. For example, when’s the last time we thanked God for the air that we breathe? We hardly ever think about air, unless we’re in danger of suffocation or drowning!
Well, technically they’re cattle… (in this case) cows and steers destined to be T-bone steaks and meatloaf. Forgive me if I call them all cows; it’s just easier.
For the past 18 years, we’ve lived on five acres just outside the city limits, across the street from a good-sized piece of undeveloped land. While our property is mostly Ponderosas with some grass, the spread we look out on is mostly short-grass prairie with a few trees. It’s been owned by a series of developers. I’m sure they have plans for high-density housing and strip malls, but one good side of the bad economy is that no bulldozers have yet arrived to spoil the peace and quiet of our country spot.
Once again Thanksgiving has come and gone. This year was lovely… relaxed (we went to our daughter’s and son-in-law’s house, so I got a break from doing all the cooking and cleaning), quiet (there were only five of us), and fun (I love playing Apples to Apples!).
Previous years haven’t been quite so idyllic. There was the turkey still frozen inside, and others fit for offering at Solomon’s temple. We’ve grimaced through crunchy sweet potatoes, and gravy with more lumps than tapioca.
I’ve learned to handle traditions with kid gloves. One year I tried offering fresh green beans with prosciutto, caramelized onions, and sautéed mushrooms… only to find that my husband’s family had to have green bean casserole. Another year, the crispy green salad I made (with lots of seasonal goodies mixed in) sat and wilted while my sister-in-law’s jello disappeared. My delicious homemade whole wheat buns have been voted out in favor of Pillsbury’s crescent rolls.
I don’t complain to God as much as I used to.
That’s not to say I’ve got it perfect and that I always rejoice in God’s choices for my life. Rather, I’m finally old enough to have some perspective. (There has to be some benefit to getting old!) I’ve learned that what I might not like at the moment may be critical to my well-being later.
It’s sort of like getting a tetanus shot. No one enjoys being stabbed by the needle, and suffering the sore arm afterwards, but we’re willing to put up with the discomfort because tetanus is much worse.