Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Count Your Blessings.. Reflect..and then Count Them Again

Hello Friends,
            I know it's been a while, and I felt a deep desire to blog tonight. I often find myself thinking of different scenarios and happenings in my life that would be considered "blog- worthy” and they usually revolve around something that God is doing in my life. Since this theme of "Thankfulness" seems to be a recurring one I figured I'd run with it and pray that God uses it to speak to some of you as well.

            To start, about a month ago a dear friend of mine told me that she felt that God was going to bring me into a season on thankfulness. At the time this word for me seemed interesting, and my somewhat prideful heart may have deemed it a little out- of- place. However, as always God comes through with His perfect timing and I will admit that I am still in that season now as He reveals more of His true character in this area every day.  I am beginning to learn of thankfulness in an entirely new light that is different than I have ever seen it before. Generally when I think of thankfulness I often think of cliché phrases like, "Thank God for everything you have today because it could be gone tomorrow." or "What if tomorrow you were only left with what you thanked God for today?" Both well thought out phrases that make us think critically, and hopefully turn us to God in the midst of searching for how we truly feel when we consider the answer or in what predicament this would leave us however, I feel that there is an important bit missing. Each of these phrases focus on the gifts and not the giver, while God gives us great things to bless us and aid us in doing the work of His Kingdom, He does not want us to fall into that trap of taking our eyes off of Him and instead focusing on anything else. 1st Timothy 6: 6-9 says,  "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction." For so long I based my thankfulness factor and how content I would allow myself to be on the "things" that I had or the people I surrounded myself with, and because of the great things that my Father has blessed me with it's hard not to.  Now, I know that we are called to be thankful for people and material possessions and there is nothing wrong with that, in fact, it is necessary however, it is so important to recognize that our God is still so good and that we can still be completely content and walking in His will with or without all of these blessings. 

            Lately I have found myself feeling discontented with my job, to the point where I barely felt the motivation to get out of bed to go to work in the mornings. While my job is not the easiest and can definitely be demanding and trying at times I had not felt this way about work in a very long time, in fact I really enjoy my position for the most part and I was extremely excited when I was promoted into a leadership position a few months ago. Unfortunately a few things didn't turn out the way they expected them to and I allowed ungratefulness and dissatisfaction to creep in, which have blocked off my joy and left me feeling exhausted, sad, and constantly finding something to complain about. Also it was not a good time for me hormonally for me (yes, I said it) which added to the emotional roller coaster, just wanted to add that to avoid being diagnosed with depression. Even tonight when I got home, after not eating all day, which never helps, I was just irritable and ready to complain until Isaiah took my face in his hands and reminded me of his love for me and the fact that we are blessed in ways that we could have never imagined possible. 

            A few hours later God continued to work on my heart. While leaving and driving home from the grocery store tonight God brought a couple things to my attention; First of all, as I was checking out I realized that I forgot my coupon and this sweet, older Scottish woman who regularly works night shifts, happened to notice my "Almond- Joy" coffee creamer and mentioned that she wanted to bring some home to her daughter in Scotland, where she would be going in a couple weeks. I laughed and agreed that the creamer was amazing and encourage her to bring back a couple boxes and then continue checking out only to realize that I had forgotten our fantastic "Fresh- and- Easy" coupons. As usual she generously offered up some of the coupons she had gathered throughout her shift that she often offers to "stranded regulars" and then moved on to help another customer. As I was leaving I made sure to wish her well on her trip to visit family and she mentioned that she was actually going back for ten days to attend her mothers funeral and my heart broke, I wished her well and told her that my husband (Isaiah) and I would be praying for her and that we would see her in a couple weeks. Once I got into the car and got ready to drive home I noticed a man with his van parked in the far end of the parking lot, as he got out of the sliding van door in his pajamas, he soon got back in and gave his dog a chance to get out and stretch his legs and the dog seemed to sit there waiting on the man expectantly. Now, I had noticed the van there when I first arrived so I have reason to believe that this man and his dog were living in the van. As I found myself praying for this man and the woman at the grocery store I felt an overwhelming sense of "gratefulness" and God's love come over my heart and all of my "problems" seemed to wash away and become extremely insignificant. Here I was driving my new car home with a back seat full of groceries, to a home that I get to live in with my incredible husband. I thought about how blessed I am to be with a man who serves me and is constantly leading me and encouraging me to be more like Jesus and who consistently reminds me of how blessed we are and of the grace that God has for us. 

           But then I switched my thoughts to the opposite end of the spectrum, which attributes to the earlier portion of this post, "What if God decided to take everything away?"  If He really wanted to, He could take away my car, our home, the means to buy the groceries, and even my husband (which can be a legitimate fear for a wife) and He would still be good, and still have a great purpose for my life. I know this is true by His word through the story of Job, a man who had everything; the big family, many animals, crops, property and he was so wealthy and his family so blessed that his sons and daughters were "feasting and drinking wine" (Job 1:13a) together when they were taken away. Job was also described as a "blameless and upright man" (Job 1:1b), which is more than many of us can claim, and yet God allowed Satan to take away everything he had and even physically afflict him as long as it did not end in death as a means of testing Job and refining him, making him even greater in the process.  When Job heard about the death of his children, which followed his livestock and crops being destroyed he cried out and said, "“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart.[c] The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” God allowed Job to be afflicted because He knew Job's heart, and in the end Job was blessed and given even more than he had to begin with. 

          For those of you going through a season of trials be encouraged, the Lord knows your heart and if you should fall He will have grace in abundance for you, should you continue to obey and walk with Him. For those of you also in a season of "Thankfulness" or "Gratefulness" may you see with the eyes of the Lord as He reveals himself to you, and to everyone  may you be encouraged by Jeremiah 29:11, which says "11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." God bless you all and goodnight. 

Until we meet again,

Did I mention that on Monday, June 10th I am celebrating my 1 Year Wedding Anniversary with that incredible husband of mine?!?!

  Just a tease of what is to come on a date closer to our anniversary. :)