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Posts tagged thankful
When Hope Comes Down

It's November 6th. And as the classic Andy Williams sings, "It’s (already) beginning to look a lot like Christmas". There's already TV commercials on TV ads of people wearing their Santa hats and kids opening gifts on Christmas morning. Stores quickly got rid of the fall decorations to put up the Christmas trees, wreathes and gift sets of cheeses and perfumes. My daughter started listening to Christmas music before the end of October! Right now I'm in Miami, Florida and there’s even a tall building where I’m looking out in the warm Miami sun with a ginormous wreath on the front of the sky-rise.

On November 1st my friend, whom I share an office with at work, and I were also about ready to listen to Christmas music at the beginning of November, and we did for about half an hour, but we weren’t quite ready and changed it to some good 70s and 80s music. But now it IS time to listen to it because it’s after Thanksgiving and I personally think, it’s officially the Christmas season. It also means it’s the first week of Advent, a tradition that has been passed down for thousands of years – the anticipation of the celebration of the birth of Jesus, when God became flesh and lived here on this earth for about 30 years.

At the beginning of November, I was in Miami, FL with my husband for a few days while he was at a conference for work. It has been the busiest schedule this fall and now that I’ve gone back to work after 17 years, it’s been an adjustment to what I’ve been used to. So, this was a needed break that I relishing and did the things that charge me up - reading, writing and listening. And since I was sitting outside at the pool, seeing this big Christmas wreath, I couldn’t help but think during this holiday season, it’s supposed to be a time for us to slow down, pay attention, listen, be at peace, realize all the things we need to be thankful for and the anticipation and joy of our Savior’s arrival. Even though Miami was anything but quiet and slow, I felt that way in my own little world there.

It made me think how life speeds up (probably over the speed limit sometimes), so much that we don’t have time to thank or reflect. We’re bombarded with extra responsibilities, shopping, gatherings, having to continuously warn our children they might get coal in their stockings if they don’t calm down and be-have! We’re bombarded with the world and the bombs being launched, social unrest, natural devastations, and evil. I can’t get off my mind the killing of 26 Christians while they were worshipping our God as a man comes in and guns almost half of them down.

How can we have any hope or peace in this crazy world, especially in the weeks to come when it’s supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year”? Sometimes, especially during this holiday season, hope and joy feel like they've run dry in a desert with no sign of an oasis. It makes me think of Job in the Bible when he raised his voice and cried out in distress and desperation, “Where is my hope (in this crazy world)? Can anyone find it?” (Job 17:15) His spirit was crushed. He was in physical and emotional pain and now was pretty upset with God for allowing all these really hard and difficult things to happen to him.

God heard Job’s cry. He hears the cries of the loved ones of, and the victims in, the church shooting. He hears my cries and yours too as we sometimes feel frantic, overwhelmed, stressed or heart-broken. And that’s why He sent HOPE down to us. Hope that heals. Hope that comforts. Hope that restores joy. Hope that triumphs over our hopelessness.

On Christmas day, God gave us the gift of Hope. Imagine and believe this:

All of the angels lifted up their voices, And filled the night with Hallelujah's, God is with us now, Everyone come and join the heavenly chorus, Our Savior King is here before us, All to hear the sound The song creation sang When Hope Came Down, So let us sing Redemption Song, Let us worship Christ the Holy one, We were lost, but we were found, When Hope Came Down, When Hope Came Down. (Kari Jobe)

And you know – we don’t have to celebrate Jesus’ birth and the gift of hope just on December 25th. We should celebrate Christmas and Easter every day! Let's be thankful for the hope Jesus never stops giving us.

Beth

Give Thanks Because This Is God's Will For You

Today on the SMC Women’s blog we are kicking off a series on Gratitude. So, I know I should be thankful in all things… “Give thanks in every situation because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 CEB). As the weather outside gets a little chillier, I start thinking about the upcoming Holiday season. And, to be frank, I get a little twitchy. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love time off with my family. I love putting out my Maw Maw’s handed-down Nativity scene. I love baking sweet things in my Grandma’s oven for us and for others. But the rest of things just plain stresses me out, and the holidays are hard for me. There are certainly parts I don’t enjoy at all, and there is often a big hole right smack in the middle of those joyous times.

But I was thinking about the word Gratitude. What does it truly mean? And it is something that I can do in all things as I am instructed? Like any good 21st century Gen-Xer, I googled it. The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return to kindness. (Dictionary.com)

Well, now. Okay, I get the being thankful part. I thank God and people with some regularity. And I have tried to put into practice a 30-days of thankfulness in November each year to remind myself of all the things, big and small, I have to be thankful for. And I hope, in some way, that shows appreciation for those things or people or opportunities. It does make me recognize my appreciation internally as I’m concentrating on them.

But what about kindness? I mean, there are times when I’ve been thankful and exasperated. Or grateful but still frustrated. When I think about the process of typing out my thankfulness entry each day, I do tend to get that warm and fuzzy feeling, and I find myself moved by it, and perhaps a little more tender when I write it out and see it in print. I have on occasion turned my face up to meet the God I love to say thank you in those moments. And I realize as I’m typing this blog post, how much it stirs me and how much I should do this, not just in the month of November, but all the time. “Give thanks in every situation…” Yes, I should. Even in the rough patches. Even in the joyous celebrations. Even on a rainy, slightly chilly, very foggy Tuesday when it feels like the world is caving in around me because of things I can’t control. So, it does lend itself to moving me toward kindness. I guess that means I’m doing something right?

So in that spirit, I’d like to share just a few excerpts from some of those thankfulness posts over the years in the hopes that it will encourage you to do the same. “Give thanks to the Lord; call upon His name; make His deeds known to all people!” (Psalms 105:1 CEB). Yes! Let’s do that! Because He is good, and He is God. In no particular order, and with no date stamp on them:

Thankfulness Day 14: I am thankful for snuggly nights in, cuddled up on the couch watching movies and eating junk food. I’m thankful the heat works well, and the blankets are soft, and the atmosphere is jovial even though we are all tired from this long week and chilly day….

Thankfulness Day 16: I am thankful (and secretly typing) for sing-alongs in the shower. They don’t know I can hear them…If that sound doesn’t bring a smile to your face, I don’t know what will. I am thankful for lazy days with no agenda and no timeline. I am thankful for that big, bright, beautiful moon staring back at me, and all those stars! My own little slice of heaven…

Thankfulness Day 18: I am thankful for my co-workers – the ones immediately in my office and most folks I get to interact with across campus each day. They are absolutely hilarious, they are supportive, and they are kind.

Thankfulness Day 11: I am thankful for all who have served or are currently serving. I am thankful that there are people, men and women, who for generations have felt called to serve our great country so that we may all live free and prosper….

Thankfulness Day 28: I am ever so thankful for leftovers, and willing eaters. I am thankful that we are fortunate enough to have leftovers when so many have nothing. I am thankful for comfy PJ’s and my just-right bed. I am thankful that sometimes the leaves falling remind me of gentle snowflakes. I am thankful for the start of Advent. A baby changes everything…Praise God!

I could go on and on (there are several Novembers-worth of posts I could share here), because when I truly stop and think about it, there is so much to be thankful for (my children, my folks, my family and friends, my pastors, our online Bible Study group, SMC and being able to worship freely, my job, all of the amenities I have because I live here and not somewhere else…..coffee, chocolate, gas for the car, sunrises, shooting stars, quiet, chaos….). I had a moment the other day when I needed to hear from God (He has not audibly spoken to me yet, so I “hear” from Him more in visuals or through other people; and to be fair, I’m having a lot of moments when I need to hear from God lately). And He showed up then, and those other times, too. And for that I am so very grateful. Praise Him that He knows my need.

Today I challenge you to spend a few minutes thinking about the things you are thankful for, and thanking God, our Great Provider, for his many blessings, whatever they may be for you. Jesus was a great example of this, as He walked this earth as God-in-flesh. When He was with His disciples, “He took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it” (Mark 14:23 CEB). Jesus gave thanks. We can and should, too. Here’s one last Thankfulness post for you:

Thankfulness October 24, 2017: I am thankful for you, friends. I am thankful for the opportunity to share with you what I’ve learned and am learning about God and myself and this world on our journey through life. I am thankful for our ability to share with you in an online capacity (and the brilliant minds that created this means of interacting). I am thankful for the SMC online Bible Study page and for all the women who read, pray, and contribute. I am thankful for the new study that will start on Monday, October 29th called “In Everything We Give Thanks” (if you’d like to join us, we can add you…just contact me or Beth Hildebrand through facebook and we’ll add you). I am thankful for the love and support of those around me, and for the village my boys and I have. And I am thankful for God who knows me, who chose me, and who loves me despite my flaws and short-comings.

We give thanks to you, God. Yes, we give thanks! Your name is near. Your marvelous deeds are declared” (Psalms 75:1). Amen.

Jessica

TUG4T

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Our granddaughter was stalling. It was past her bedtime and she was finagling with Dish, her grandfather, to stay up a little longer.

Dish was explaining that she needed to go to bed so she could wake up and do all the fun things he had planned for her the next day.

Mary Marshall gave in and flung her arms around his neck and said “thank you Dish for tomorrow”, completely trusting that everything promised to happen the next day would take place.

The faith of a child is simple and pure.

Dish said “this and this” would happen, and she never doubted his word.

We forget that God’s mercies are new every morning.

We forget our childlike faith.

We forget that Thanksgiving always precedes the miracle of God’s grace.

Lori Harris writes in her weekly blog “we are a discontent people because in our pursuit of all the world has to offer, we fail to give thanks for all that God freely gives. We allow the daily trappings of life trip us up and turn our eyes inward. We let outward pressures and others' expectations fool us into believing that somehow our joy is found in something or someone other than Christ. . . We chase more of the world and never slow down long enough to savor the world we've been given.”

Give thanks daily. And every night thank God for the miracle of his grace of tomorrow.

At the beginning of this month of Gratitude, I want to invite you to join me in a practice of reading a Psalm every day in November.

Day 1: Psalm 30 {give thanks for deliverance} Day 2: Psalm 118 {give thanks for salvation} Day 3: Psalm 138 {give thanks for God's loving kindness} Day 4: Psalm 9 {give thanks for God's righteous judgement} Day 5: Psalm 16 {give thanks for God hearing us} Day 6: Psalm 27 {give thanks for God being our defense} Day 7: Psalm 66 { give thanks for all that God has done} Day 8: Psalm 100 {give thanks that God is God} Day 9: Psalm 107:1-9 {give thanks for God redeeming us} Day 10: Psalm 111 {give thanks for God-breathed scripture} Day 11: Psalm 121 {give thanks for God being our helper} Day 12: Psalm 84 {give thanks for our HOME being found in God} Day 13: Psalm 8 {give thanks for creation} Day 14: Psalm 18: 1-3, 30-36, 46-50 {give thanks for God being our deliverer} Day 15: Psalm 46 {give thanks for God being our refuge and and our strength}

Read the Psalm and sit in the silence of His grace. Practice the “dog-with-a-bone kind of reading” that Eugene Peterson speaks of in his book “Eat This Book”. I encourage you to take one Psalm a day and meditate on it, inviting God to cultivate within your heart a spirit of gratitude.

And don’t forget to thank God for tomorrow, knowing He has it covered!

If you would like the second half of the list I will have it on the 16th of the month. Send me your email and I will see that you get it!

TUG4T (Thank You God for tomorrow)

SD

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