Don’t Worry

Musa Ukukhathazeka!blog about not worrying

The Zulu words for Don’t Worry! look daunting indeed. ūüôā¬† Actually they are not really that hard.¬† Just sound it out (but the “h” is silent).

At age 58, my husband and I began learning the Zulu language.  For a while, I struggled with being th(i)nkful about it.  Seriously.  But now it is exhilarating to feel more and more comfortable with Zulu words. I find that some Zulu words come to mind that capture an idea better than English words do. Haha!

Worries of the Rich

Matthew 6:30-33 describes a lesson that we are to learn from the grass of the field with its beautiful wildflowers.

blaaklokkerBut if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you,¬†O you of little faith?¬†Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‚ÄėWhat shall we eat?‚Äô or ‚ÄėWhat shall we drink?‚Äô or ‚ÄėWhat shall we wear?‚Äô¬†For¬†the Gentiles seek after all these things, and¬†your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.¬†¬†But¬†seek first¬†the kingdom of God and his righteousness,¬†and all these things will be added to you.

We are not to be anxious. The God who clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, is going to clothe us. He is going to take care of us. We do not need to worry.¬† In fact, He says DON’T do it.

Basic food, basic clothing, and basic shelter are pretty easy to come by, but because most of us have much more, we worry more.¬† We have what we call “rich-people problems.”¬† Think about it. We worry about the car accident, the air conditioner’s broken condenser, the college bills, the alarm system going on the blink again, the app on my cell phone not working.¬† We don’t stop to think that we actually have cars, air conditioners, higher education, properties to guard, and cell phones … when most of the world does not.¬† Perspective.

Norwegian Blåklokker

Screen Shot 2019-05-20 at 1.20.47 PMZooming up from Zululand, where we live now at the bottom of the earth … to Norway at the top of the earth,¬†let me take you on a short trip.¬† I grew up in a little town called Brumunddal, Norway.¬† My father built a house that we called ‘Solheim’ on the hillside of Bj√łrgeberget.

I sometimes would walk in the forests around our home and one day came across these beautiful bl√•klokker – flowers we call “blue bells.”¬†¬†20190516_220628They happened to bloom close to my birthday in July.¬† I was so thrilled to find such beauties in the meadow on my birthday.¬† I loved them. These wildflowers were so very delicate … frail … exquisite.

Th(i)nkfulness Attacks Worry

My heavenly Father, who created the blåklokker, also created me and you. He has got this!  He is completely in control.  You do not need to worry.  You can substitute the worry with trust and thankfulness.a blog on bluebells 2

Instead of focusing on your item of worry, focus on the character of your Creator God. He has made promises to you that He will make all things come together for your Christlike good if you have trusted in him as your Savior (Romans 8:28).¬† He is sovereign and completely trustworthy.¬† He is within you and with you; obviously you can’t escape His notice.¬† He is using what you are going through to shape you into “Jesus in your skin.”¬† He has to keep His promises.

Engaging in th(i)nkfulness drives worry away.

What are you th(i)nkful for today? My list is:

  • The sound of the waves of the Indian Ocean
  • We had Zulu class with Ignatia yesterday
  • This past weekend we gathered with believers from Grace-Toti for a family camp
  • Romans 15:13
  • The Lord tenderly cares for me like a father does for his beloved child
  • When things that are difficult happen in my life, I can be assured that He has a purpose and a plan to use it to make me more like Jesus if I respond biblically
  • This life is a vapor
  • My Savior has removed my sin and reconciled me with my Creator God
  • Our precious daughter-in-law’s pregnancy is going so well even though it had a rough beginning
  • I Corinthians 10:13 promises that He will not test me above what I am ablea blog on bluebells

Ikke bekymre deg (Norwegian)

Musa ukukhathazeka (Zulu)

Don’t worry (English)

Paul Giving Thanks

Our Brother Paul

Welcome to a gathering of the Church in Aquila and Prisca’s home.a blogpost on Paul's thankfulness to believers

We are excited to hear from our brother Paul as he is here and going to share about his recent journeys.  We are tantalized by the odors coming from the baking
a post on brother Paulkhubz (Jewish pita bread) that we will enjoy after the teaching and sharing time. 

I look around the group of believers gathered in my imagination, and am filled with gratitude to God for their courage and love for the Messiah.  Many of them have suffered greatly for their faith.  Many know of some that have given in and burnt the worship incense to the Roman gods. Some from this group have been martyred, finishing their earthly journey.

As we listen to our brother share, it is interesting to notice that Paul uses the words for gratitude ~thanks, thank, thanksgiving, thanksgivings, thankful, thanked~ 49 times in his letters. He valued gratitude.

Take the Resurrection Chapter of I Corinthians 15 where Paul shows that without the Lord Jesus rising from the dead, we are of all men most miserable. Here, Paul gives thanks to God who gives us the victory over death through our Lord Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 15:57). Or how about Romans 7:25 where Paul has been describing the struggle over who will deliver us from this body of death and cries out the solution: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Expressing Thanks

Paul was thankful for people, and told them so.  He was careful to express his thanks to God for these individuals and clusters of believers in the letters he wrote:

  • Romans 1:8¬†–¬†First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.
  • I Corinthians 1:4 –¬†I always thank my God for you because of the grace He has given you in Christ Jesus.
  • Ephesians 1:16 –¬†I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers
  • Philippians 1:3 –¬†I thank my God every time I remember you.
  • Colossians 1:3 –¬†We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,
  • 1 Thessalonians 1:2 –¬†We always thank God for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers
  • 2¬†Thessalonians 1:3 –¬†We are obligated to thank God for you all the time, brothers, as is fitting, because your faith is growing more and more, and your love for one another is increasing.
  • Philemon 1:4 –¬†I always thank my God, making mention of you in my prayers

He showed by example how we are to not only think the thanks, but also express the thanks – first to God and then to other people.

Am I Th(i)nkful Like Paul?

a post about brother Paul 1.jpg

Not so sure how I am doing on this issue.¬† I need to be more intentional.¬† I want to think and express my thanks to God first, and then to others for their faithful walk in the Lord.¬† What an encouragement it is to remember the godly examples of others who have gone before us or even others walking life right beside us here and now.¬† Paul’s example is a guide.

Paul’s Prayer for the Colossians

a post about brother paul 3.jpg

Way back in 2010 our family got together in a cabin in PA. Our youngest daughter had not even started university yet.¬† We were meeting ‘significant others’ and the grand-babies were starting to arrive.

The Sunday morning that we were there, we studied together one of Paul’s prayers.¬† A few months earlier David had gotten all the guys to volunteer to give a talk about a portion of Colossians 1:9-14. They each taught us a piece of this important prayer that Paul offered up for the believers at Colossae. That is a very precious memory to me.

Here is Colossians 1:9-14:

9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Paul is challenging the readers by sharing his prayer for them. He is praying for their maturity and growth in the Lord, and for fruitfulness and long-suffering. He ends by praying for them to give thanks to the Father who has delivered them and qualified them for an amazing inheritance.

Thanks, Brother Paul

So as we leave Aquila’s home in our imagination and head out into the world, whether it be Africa, Asia, Europe, America, Australia, or New Zealand … or wherever you go, let’s follow Paul’s admonition.¬† Let’s think thanks and give thanks¬†to our Father first, and then be a bit more intentional in expressing our thanks to others for who they are and what they’ve done. a blogpost on Paul's thankfulness to believers

Who comes to mind that you give thanks to God for in your life? What about them are you thankful for?

Have you shared that with them lately?

The Sacrifice of Praise

Praisegiving

On the fourth Thursday of November Thanksgiving depositphotos_170113010-stock-photo-family-having-holiday-dinnerAmericans celebrate Thanksgiving. In 1863 President Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

Praise serves us as both a verb and a noun.

  • Verb: to express warm approval or admiration of
  • Noun: the expression of approval or admiration for someone or something; the expression of respect and gratitude as an act of worship.

Thanksgiving 1It is interesting to note that President Lincoln proclaimed that thanks and praise be directed to God.¬† He recognized that it wasn’t enough for us to just voice our thanks for each other and for things, but it needed to be to our Creator Father who gave us life.¬† We need to remember to be thankful to, not just thankful for.

Sacrifice Is Proportionate To Worth

In Bible times, believers gave up the use and enjoyment of a spotless animal each year to have it killed and offered up as a sacrifice to God.¬† Pleasing God was “worth” the personal loss.¬† Sacrifice expresses worth-ship.¬† Typically, we make “sacrifices” only if we place high value on someone or something.

  • An African girl will give up playing with friends and trudge through a river collecting beads to sell to local crafters so that she can save up money for school shoes.¬† Shoes are worth the sacrifice.
  • A man from Alabama will miss work, drive a hundred miles to pick up friends and go to a stadium to sit in seats that cost $200 each to watch a single game played by their favorite sports team.¬† The thrill of the game is worth the sacrifice.
  • Family will spend time, money, and energy to get together for the holidays. Why? Being together with those with whom we have deep soul-ties is worth the sacrifice.

By Him therefore, let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His Name.‚ÄĚ Hebrews 13:15

pray-e1542815779682.jpgHebrews says that praise is a sacrifice. Jesus’ work enables us to take our sacrifice into the very presence of God.¬† In having the opportunity to praise God, what would you say?¬† If you have a small view of God, the sacrifice of praise will bother you, and you will back out of His presence.

pray-e1542815816969.jpgOne day, people from every ethnic group will join together around the Throne and lift up their praise to the One who is worth it, far above all other people and things (Rev. 7:9-10; 19:1-8).¬† How cool to get a head start here on earth. ūüôā¬† So whether it is thank you, tusen takk, Ngibonga, do jeh, grazie, merci, danke, khop khun, or arigato, let’s give praise and thanks to our God!

Hallelujah

You might even consider uttering this word at Thanksgiving.¬† Let me take the word apart.¬† “Halal” literally means “to shine” and figuratively means to boast, make a show, to rave, to be loudly foolish, and to celebrate.¬† Jah is short for the amazing and unequalled name of God.

The middle part of hallelujah is lu, meaning you.  The only thing standing between raving praise and God is you.  Will you be the conduit or the barrier?  Hallelujah is an exhortation РPraise you the Lord!

Structure Jumpstarts Impulse

I think we Рeven you introverts out there Рneed to go ahead and shine a little. You need to boast a bit, and maybe even carry on foolishly about our God this Thanksgiving. :-).  Many Christian families find that structure jumpstarts impulsive thanksgiving, so they have a specific time to go around the table and say one thing they are especially thankful to God for this past year.

Being missionaries abroad, we are not in the US during Thanksgiving, but we have found that foreign Christians have fallen in love with the holiday.  So we do our best to find similar foods, tell the old Plymouth story, and offer up the sacrifices of praise to our God.

“Let¬†everything that has breath praise the¬†Lord!
Praise the¬†Lord!”¬† ¬†Psalm 150:6

thanks

Th(i)nkful in Gethsemane

Journey to Gethsemane

Jerusalem. David and I were experiencing a dream trip come true.  Someone had provided a way for us to join a small study group to Israel.  All my life I had desired to see the places where Jesus walked and to have my eyes opened to the events of the Bible in an extraordinary manner.  I was full of thinking thanks as we actually walked along the old Jerusalem walls, into the Kidron valley, and up the Mount of Olives into the Garden of Gethsemane. The olive trees were astounding!

As we entered I realized that it was a lot smaller than I had imagined.  Probably one reason for that was the Church of All Nations that now occupies much of the area where the garden had originally been.  The word Gethsemane means olive press.  Since the Mount of Olives is covered with olive tress, that is a most fitting name.  The garden seemed more cultivated than I expected, probably more than it was when Jesus and His disciples had gone there 2,000 years ago.  IMG_5053A fence enclosed the garden, protecting the ancient olive trees, and beautiful flowers were growing in between the old trees.  I could see walkways, but people were not allowed to enter.

Th(i)nkful for Freddie

Not sure if I was super-exhausted from travel and walking many miles a day, or because I was truly aware of the immensity of what happened on that piece of ground, but I began to cry.¬† Tears were streaming down my face as I peered over the fence that surrounded the garden.¬† I was so very th(i)nkful that Jesus “saw it through.”¬† For my sake, he endured through the arrest and the illegal trial that night, and then the beatings, the mocking, and the agony of the cross the next day.¬† The overwhelming agony was sadly juxtaposed with the underwhelmed cluelessness of his disciples who were not even able to stay awake and pray with Him.¬† I don’t expect I would have done any better as I so often yield to the frailty of my flesh.

IMG_5057

A man inside the garden walked up to me.¬† He noticed my tears and was gentle and kind.¬† He said that he had been the gardener there for 21 years, and his father for 40 years before him.¬† His name was Freddie; his father was from Romania and his mother an American Jew. He asked me to wait a minute while he went to get something.¬† He returned with some small sprigs clipped from the oldest olive tree in the garden!¬† As we continued to chat with him, we found out that Freddie’s mother was very sick so David asked if he could pray for her, and he did.

Some of the olive trees there were so huge and gnarled.  I had never seen such trees in all my life.  I wondered if in fact some of them could actually have been there 2,000 years ago when Jesus was there?

2000 year old olive tree

Rosemary in Gethsemane

IMG_5454As an epilogue, I wanted to mention that someone once told me that there was a lot of the herb rosemary in the Garden of Gethsemane.  That connected with me.  I love rosemary, and to think that it may have been growing around the area where Jesus prayed brought me joy.  Perhaps he stroked His fingers over the rosemary and smelled it like I love to do. So I was on the lookout for that as I walked around the garden.

Sure enough I found it on the north side.  It was neatly planted in a row, but I am sure that when Jesus was there it grew more wildly.

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and He said to His disciples. Sit here, while I go over there and pray. And taking with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, He began to be sorrowful and troubled.  Then he said to them, My soul is very sorrowful , even to death; remain here, and watch with Me. 

Matthew 26:36-38

 

 

 

Encourage ~ To Pour Courage Into

 

Encourage ~ Pour Courage Into

Have you ever looked for ways to encourage others, maybe your own children, to be thankful? I love these definitions of encourage: to give support, confidence, or hope to; to help or stimulate (an activity, state, or view) to develop; to infuse courage; to pour courage into.

In 2 Corinthians 4, Paul is sharing about the great suffering that he faced on a continual basis.  He comes to the last few verses of that chapter and pours courage into his readers by reminding them of the purpose of his difficulties and their difficulties.

  • Those trials were causing the progressive death of the Self and allowed Jesus to live through the shell of Paul’s body (v. 11);
  • Those difficulties created a “fellowship of the resurrection;” we do not call this earth “home” but look forward the coming better life (v. 14)
  • Those hardships provided an opportunity for God’s grace to sustain us during suffering, which will increase our thanksgiving to the glory of God (v. 15).
  • Those afflictions will eventually result in rewards that are ridiculously disproportionate to the suffering (v. 17)

2 Cor. 4:15-17.  All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.

Grace Turned On

There is a grace (supernatural help) that God releases when His people give thanks.¬† When we purposefully choose to think thanks and express that thanks orally or in a written form, we create a space where God loves to dwell, where He delights to touch us.¬† Psalm 22:3 says that God “inhabits the praises of His people.”

Have you ever noticed at mealtimes that Christians sometimes call giving thanks for the food “saying grace?” It is intriguing to think of the connection that grace has to giving thanks. Strong’s Concordance gives an interesting definition for the Greek word charis, normally translated grace: “the divine influence upon the heart and its refpouring 3lection in life; including gratitude and thanks; benefit, favor, gift, grace, liberality, joy, pleasure.”

Amazing! The Greek word for grace can also be translated “thanks!” What if our charis to God turns on His charis to us? What if we turn on the faucet of grace every time we are th(i)nkful?! What if our whining and complaining spirit, or just saying nothing, turns down or turns off the flow of God’s grace to us?

Being Spirit-Filled Is A Choice

We know that God’s Spirit dwells within us from the moment of salvation – we have all of the Spirit we will ever get or need.¬† We choose, however, how much His Spirit has of us. When Paul commands us to be filled with the Spirit instead of wine, he is telling us that there is a choice we can make in pursuing the Spirit’s filling.¬† The description of a person filled with the Spirit is that they speak to themselves with psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in their hearts to the Lord and they give thanks always and for everything (Eph. 5:18-20).

I am seeking to encourage you to be th(i)nkful in this blogpost. I am seeking to pour courage into you to begin to purposely cultivate thinking thanks. I am seeking to inspire you with obedience to the commands of I Thess. 5:18 and Eph. 5:20, but also trying to motivate you to dream of the grace that is released when we follow hard after God and seek to do His will.  He blesses righteousness.

Could you think of one other person in your life that might need to have some courage poured into them to become th(i)nkful?

Dan Has Poured Courage Into My Life

Josh and Dan HainesDan Haines, a dear friend of ours, has encouraged David and me so many times. This photo is from his wedding in which our oldest son Joshua was a ring-bearer.

Many years have passed since that day.¬† Many trials have come along the way, such as the trial of Dan falling from a tree-stand while deer hunting and losing all feeling from the waist down. He pushed through the despair, extreme life-change, and loss of dreams by God’s grace alone, and continues to praise the Lord.¬† He has chosen to think thanks and reflect Christ even in the severe testing ordained by our sovereign God.¬† Outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

I dedicate this post to you, Dan. Thank you for your example of thinking thanks and thirsting after our God who never disappoints.  How I long to see your body restored one day when we stand side by side and see our Master and King. Proud of you.

Th(i)nkful – Producing Grace

A Gratitude Journal

Nick and Julia 1This is a picture of our son, Nicolas, and his beautiful Julia. ¬† They gave me a special present this year for my birthday –¬† a Daily Gratitude Journal! In this journal there are only blank pages divided by a line in the middle and a space on which to put the date. You could use really any kind of notebook to do the same thing. The idea behind it is to get into a pattern of writing down your th(i)nkful list. At the end of the day you take a moment to reflect on what you were thankful ¬† for that day.

IMG_2253I started doing that after getting this book from Nick and Julia. Some entries are not so full. Some entries can barely fit all that I want to record. But the beautiful thing that I find happening to me is that, as I go through my days, I make mental notes of the things I need to remember to record that evening. This goes for easy days, as well has hard days.

In the Valley of Shadows

Recently, I have been hit with a lot of opportunities for wisdom. So many people I know personally have been ushered into a valley of shadows – getting better acquainted with cancer. I see in my own behavior that, although I know what the truth is and know my responsibility to act in accordance with it, I still can be overwhelmed with sadness and heaviness in my heart. I chide myself for not being stronger. The truth is, when I cannot understand God’s ways, I must hold on to His character. I must simply “hold on to Jesus.” Let me illustrate.

Song of the Orphans

A few years back, David and I had the privilege of interacting with some precious people in Shongwe Mission, South Africa.  This neighborhood was filled with orphan-led households.  In other words, both parents were gone and there were children caring for each other.  One home with 6 children was led by a 12-year-old named Lalif. I remember being struck with such admiration and yet sadness and hopelessness.

IHold on to Jesus learned a gem that afternoon. Our group sang songs for them and in return they wanted to sing for us. They did a much better job. ūüôā One of the songs they sang was “Hold on to Jesus, Hold on, Hold on, Hold on.” I thought to myself that wow, that doctrine was so shallow.¬† They should have been taught deeper truths.¬† However, the gem I discovered was that the most important thing to do when going through horrendous difficulties and challenges is to “Hold on to Jesus.”

“Trust in Him at all times, you people, pour out your heart before Him: God is a refuge for us. Selah” (Psalm 62:8).

I just can’t give way to the temptation to begin to doubt the Lord’s goodness and purposes.¬† Trust.¬† He is writing a bigger story that I could even imagine.¬† He asks me to be filled with the Spirit in Eph. 5:18. A description of what that filling looks like comes in verses 19-20.¬† I am to speak to myself in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.¬† I am to sing and make melody in my heart to the Lord.¬† I am to give thanks always for all things to God in the name of Jesus Christ.

“I will recount the steadfast love of the Lord” Isaiah 63:7

When faced with difficulties, these are the things I can recount:

  1. God is God and I am not
  2. This life is a vapor and we are headed to a much better place if we have trusted in Jesus alone for our salvation
  3. God’s promises hold fast
  4. The Lord will never leave, nor forsake
  5. Somehow good will come out of pain and suffering
  6. My job is to respond to hardship with thinking thanks; like for example, ¬†just yesterday a music therapist came into the hospital room of my loved one and played her guitar and sang “Amazing Grace”
  7. God is trustworthy; He can deftly handle all my trust
  8. God will not test me above what I am able and will answer my cry to be Spirit-filled right in the trial
  9. God hears our cries for healing and will do what is best; teaching a myriad of lessons along the way
  10. I can be edified by singing; some good selections are Chris Anderson’s song, “I Run to Christ,” or Getty’s, “Still, My Soul Be Still, or Matthew Decker’s “Fullness of Joy” (Psalm 16)
  11. I can look for God’s fingerprints of grace and kindness along the way; they are there

When I choose to be th(i)nkful Рa determined choice to download grace/strength from the Lord to think thanks about every circumstance that comes my way and express that thanks orally or in a written form Рgrace starts to spring up in my heart. It may just be a little trickle at first, but as my thoughts begin to meditate on all the Lord has done and is doing, it bubbles more and more.  Being thinkful produces grace.

 

Th(i)nkful In The Storm

Sarah's tree storySince the Bible is the most published piece of literature in human history, and because I personally trust in it explicitly, I decided to do a thorough biblical study of the word “thanks” in all its various forms (such as thank, thankfulness, thanksgiving, thankworthy).

Let me summarize what I found and then connect it with the event in this picture that took place just last week.

Out of the 135 references I found in the Strong’s Concordance, 67 came from the Old Testament, and 68 from the New Testament. Let’s hit a few highpoints.

The references in the OT begin with the Lord’s thanksgiving offerings which were voluntary and were to express thankfulness to God in Lev. 7:11-21. God designed giving thanks as an essential part of the way His chosen people should worship Him.¬† As the years and the prophets went by, we can also see that whenever there was a revival, a time of cleansing and restoration in Israel, thanksgiving was an integral part.

The Psalms have the most references to thanks of any book in the Bible – no surprise there. When the psalmist was in distress, discouraged, or overwhelmed, he often poured out his heart to God.¬† As he began truth-thinking about God’s character and promises, his perspective changed and his thoughts were filled with thanksgiving toward God.

Moving to the NT, Colossians has a verse dealing with thanks in every chapter.  In fact, chapter 3 has three verses in a row (3:15-17), where three Greek words are used that are each connected to being thankful.  Check it out.

The strongest verses, Ephesians 5:20 and I Thessalonians 5:18, actually command believers to give thanks in all circumstances.

  • “Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 5:20).
  • “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (I Thess. 5:18).

This is just a small sampling of all the verses I found, but such a strong foundation for pursuing being th(i)nkful.  I am cultivating thinking thanks not just for His glory, but also because my Creator has designed this thinking pattern for my benefit.  He wants me to look for the things that I can be thankful for in every situation that comes my way.

There will be times that are heart-wrenching and stretching in my life. I am to think thanks right then, even through the tears. There will be times when I feel like dancing because I am so happy.  I am to think thanks then, but that will be easy.  However, most of life will be in between these extremes, the vast stretches of mundane, everyday life, but even then, all the time, when I wake, and when I go to sleep, I am to think thanks.

I want to end this post with a story from a former student named Sarah.  She and her husband Austin are very precious to David and me. She had an eventful birthday on May 4th, a stormy day just last week.  This is how she described what happened after she left work that day:

I feel that I need to proclaim God’s grace and goodness. After not being able to leave due to trees down on the road, I came back to the house. I had just walked into the living room when we heard cracking and a massive crash. Walked outside to see this [picture above] where I had been only moments earlier. We don’t always know why God spares us from things like this, or why he doesn’t at times. But like Austin says, there are no other alternatives. No “what if’s,” or “if only’s,” we can only trust that if we knew everything He does, we wouldn’t change one thing (used by permission).

Sarah was being th(i)nkful.  She was thinking thanks in the middle of a very frightening and difficult thing.  Rather than bemoaning the destruction of her car, worrying about insurance claims, or how she would get to work, her thoughts went quickly to giving thanks to God.