Category Archives: Gratitude

The Lord is God

My husband and I went to Ethiopia about 10 years ago with Habitat for Humanity.  We were there for three weeks and we helped begin 8 houses in Jimma.  By the end of our stay the foundations had been dug and laid, and the walls of each home were about waist high.

We went because we wanted to help, but was the primary objective really for us to come and help carry bricks or did I miss a deeper lesson?

Looking back I am a little sad to see how much I failed to really see during our visit, but I am thankful for my memory which isn’t always the best, but usually holds onto the things that don’t seem important at the time, but later prove to be quite relevant and important.

The other day one of our Ethiopian Habitat leaders came to mind, Elias.  I haven’t thought about him in a long time, but I was so happy to remember him. Thinking of him made me smile!

He was with us throughout our entire stay in Ethiopia.  He met our group in Addis Ababa, traveled with us to Jimma, worked along side our group everyday and then saw us all the way back to the international airport in Addis Ababa at the end of our visit.

He was a quiet and thoughtful man.  He was born and raised in Ethiopia and had the opportunity to study engineering abroad.  After his studies he returned home.  I remember he told us how he loved Harrison Ford movies and I remember him eating traditional Ethiopian food at every meal, even at breakfast.  I am not sure why this surprised me at the time considering that we were in Ethiopia, but for some reason it did and every morning I was shocked once again to see him eating injera with wat for breakfast.

Most of all though, I remember watching him bow his head and pray before every meal.  I noticed it and I registered it enough to remember, but the beauty of his gratitude didn’t truly touch me at the time.  I can’t even recall if I had the consideration to bow my head and give him a moment of silence at each meal… I hope that I did, but I can’t say for cetain.

The name Elias means The Lord is God.  I think my friend’s name was well chosen and for the short time I spent with him, he truly lived it’s meaning every day.

I pray for a heart full of gratitude like my friend Elias, and I am so thankful that 10 years later, his message of thanksgiving and love for our Lord, God, is finally getting through to me.

Let the celebration continue…

Jesus is here, Jesus is born, Jesus is with us and yet what are we doing?

We are quickly taking down our decorations and we are preparing ourselves for the grind, for the coldest part of our winter and the coldest time in some of our hearts.  Our heads are down and the parties are over.

Was it the same back then in Bethlehem?

The angels were not still singing their praises for us to see and the shepherds had to move on with their flocks.  A few still sought Him in this quiet and peaceful time, but the majority of people returned to the routine of their lives.

Yet in Matthew 9:15
Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.”

This is not the time to return to our normal and every day lives.  He is here, He is born, He is with us!  I pray to continue seeking and celebrating because He is here!

Glory to God in the highest and on earth may we all seek Your peace!

Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done

Do you ever buy a lottery ticket when the jackpot has become extremely large?

I do, and then for the next 24 hours until the drawing I start fantasizing about what I would do if I won.  I start divvying up the money in my mind, deciding how much I would keep, how much I would give to family, estimating how much would be lost due to taxes, estimating how much I would have to pay advisors and then, finally, the last category tagged on as an after thought is how much I might give to those in need.

Usually by the end of the 24 hours, the amount I “need” to keep has gone up and the amount I would give away has gone down.  It is pretty disgusting how quickly I get sucked into thinking/imagining/dreaming that I “need” $XXX,XXX,XXX.

Can you imagine my kingdom coming to be?  Every time I hear the song Demons by Imagine Dragons I am reminded of my inner demon and I shudder at the thought of my kingdom coming to be.

My Heavenly Father, my Lord, my Love, my sweet Jesus… all I can say is thank You, thank You, thank You, for sparing me from ever winning the lottery, and instead using each ticket purchase to open my eyes to my own demon buried deep within.

I pray to always remember and I pray to always pray…

Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done.

The Festival of Lights!

My new sister-in-law is coming to celebrate Thanksgiving with us.  I spoke with her the other night to talk about the menu that weekend and at the end of the conversation she told me that Hanukkah begins the Wednesday before Thanksgiving this year.  She said she has never celebrated Hanukkah without a menorah and wondered if it would be okay for her to bring it.

A few years ago I would have said yes, but I would have completely missed out on the excitement and joy of this experience.

Jesus was Jewish!  He celebrated the Festival of Lights every year of His short life.  Can you imagine celebrating the Festival of Lights with the Light of the World standing by your side?

Just thinking about it… takes. my. breath. away.

I am so thankful to have my eyes open enough at the moment to see what a blessing it will be to celebrate the Festival of Lights in our home with my sweet new sister.

Thank You my Light, my Love, my sweet Jesus!

Seeking the sacred within the secular…

I am reading a book of the complete works of Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Clare of Assisi, Francis and Clare:  The Complete Works.

In one the letters that Saint Francis wrote to the clergy, he quotes Corinthians 2:14, The person who does not have the spirit does not perceive the things of God.

I loved reading this today because I have been thinking about the sacred within our secular world versus the secular within His sacred world.  Is there a difference?  Can a strict line define sacred versus secular or are we the ones who have imposed this distinction?

I have been trying to be a little more attentive to every song, every book, every discussion, every thought with the hope to perceive His message everywhere.  I think it is everywhere and I want to be still and listen.

Jesus, please fill us with Your spirit so that we can perceive the things of God and realize that we are surrounded by Them… They are everywhere.

Turned around and upside down!

Whoever needs less should thank God and not be distressed, but whoever needs more should feel humble because of his weakness, not self important because of the kindness shown to him.

– The Rule of Saint Benedict

Our society builds up those with more making it difficult for those with more to truly feel humble.  This then leads many with less to not thank God, but instead covet more.

I think we need to keep Saint Benedict’s perspective in mind and always in sight, despite being constantly bombarded with the opposite belief by the cultural norms of our society.

Jesus please help us to keep looking at things upside down and turned around so that we won’t be swept away by the world.

Thank You

Almost every time I pray I ask for my family and friends to be blessed and kept safe, but what does keeping them safe really entail?  What does blessing them really entail?

Do I mean for them to be healthy and kept out of accidents?
Do I mean for them to be comfortable and happy?

Will keeping them safe and blessing them bring them closer to God?  I don’t know.

In Jeremiah 14:11-12
The Lord said to me: Do not pray for the welfare of this people.  Although they fast, I do not hear their cry, and although they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I do not accept them; but by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence I consume them.

Was the Lord asking Jeremiah to refrain from praying for the welfare of these people because He knew that safety, comfort and blessings are not what would bring these people closer to Him?  Is He saying that that they will only cry out to Him, present offerings from their hearts, and truly come closer to Him in times of war, famine and pestilence?

I am not sure, but reading this made me take a step back and wonder.

1.  How often do I cry out to God in true joy and thanksgiving when I am safe, comfortable and blessed?  Do these blessings help bring me closer to Him?

2.  How often do I cry out to God in times of sorrow or conflict?  Do these difficulties and challenges bring me closer to Him?

God wants us to cry out to Him regardless of whether it is in joy or misery.   He wants to be there for us, He wants to be close to us and maybe sometimes we won’t let Him in until the difficult times arise.

God please help us to pray with humility knowing that we don’t know what is best, and help us to have faith that You do know what is best for all of us and will do everything in Your power to help us cry out to You.

Maybe my new prayer should be, Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!

Saying “It is Our Best Life”…

I started saying “It is our best life” every morning and every night on Jan 23, 2012.  If you have read the background or the first post on this site, you already know that before this date I was saying “It is my best life” on a regular basis.

About a week before Jan 23, 2012, I posted a note on facebook for my friends.  In my note, I gave them the background and then challenged my friends to say “It is our best life” every morning and every night for a month.  What I didn’t tell anyone at that time was that I was scared to start my own challenge.

At that time, my life was good.  My husband had recently taken a new job that allowed him to be home more.  My girls were happy and healthy and attending a new school that we all loved.  Since moving to a new city, I had reconnected with a college friend who quickly became a best friend.  Life was good and I was scared to rock the boat.

The whole week before Jan 23, 2012, I stopped saying “It is my best life”, but I did not say “It is our best life” either.  I waited until the morning of Jan 23, 2012, but when I woke up that morning I whispered “It is our best life” and I meant it.

The fear of having opened a unwanted can of worms with my new mantra “It is our best life”, didn’t go away for a few weeks, but I kept saying it.  No worms showed up, no axe fell and by the end of the month, I had formed a habit and my old mantra “It is my best life” was gone.

The challenge for my friends came and went without much follow-up, but I was hooked and I kept on saying “It is our best life”.

By Easter 2012, I had found Jesus and come to the realization that I hadn’t known Him before despite having thought I knew Him.  I love Him so much!!!

Now as Easter 2013 approaches and over a year has passed since I started saying “It is our best life” and close to a year has passed since I truly fell in love with Jesus, I look at my life and I almost don’t recognize it.  I have never been more deeply in love with my husband!  I have never been in such awe of my girls and the amazing things they say and do.  I don’t think I have ever been so relaxed, as much fun or full of so much laughter with my family!  I know I have never in my life been full of so much gratitude.

Thank you Jesus for making all things possible!  I believe Our Best Life will only get better as more people believe it is Our Best Life!

Lamp posts

I have been thinking a lot about John the Baptist.  I am inspired by and in awe of him.  He rejoiced as his followers/disciples left to follow Jesus.

He was like a lamp post along the path.   He clearly understood that he was not the goal, but instead a guide, directing his pupils down the path toward Jesus.

Since I started looking for a teacher I am finding teachers everywhere.  Therefore I have now started wondering how to figure out which teachers to listen to and learn from?

I think the answer lies in our first teacher, our first lamp post, John the Baptist.

I think…

  • We need to look for someone, something to inspire our ongoing search for Jesus.
  • We need to look for a teacher who is willing to humbly share the job of teaching us with others.
  • We need to look for someone who will understand that one day the relationship might change/grow from student/teacher to friends and then rejoice in this change/growth.
  • We need to look for someone who knows and understands that they are lighting our paths… they know they are not the final destination and they don’t want to be the final destination because they understand that this desire would hold them back in their own search for Jesus!

Jesus, thank you for John the Baptist!  Please help us to rejoice from the depths of our souls as others find You, just as Your first lamp post, John the Baptist, did!

Thank You!

I am so filled with gratitude and joy this morning… all I can do is cry out, thank You, thank You, thank You, thank You, thank You!

Thank you for reading, loving, dreaming, sharing, praying and so many other wonderful things full of good that you do!

Sending out prayers full of love and dreams of Our Best Life!