Thanksgiving Day is not an easy day for everyone. As you wake up or sit down to eat or lay in bed seeking relief, our prayer here at Priceless is that you see how very much you have to be thankful for. When we are chronically ill, caught up in a difficult situation, at odds in a relationship, fearful over what-ifs, or lonely, we find ourselves struggling to be thankful and often, only able to see the darkness.
Things we can each be thankful for…
…another day of life
…warm sunshine and cool breezes
…Jesus dying on the cross for our sin and shame
…clothes to wear
…beautiful music or art
…medical care nearby
…food to eat – even if it’s not fancy or exactly what we want
…God’s precious unconditional love for us
As you collapse into a recliner after a busy day, find at least one thing in your day for which you are thankful, or choose something from the list above. Dwell on it for a few minutes and express your gratefulness to God. May you find joy in your grateful moment.
Can you believe that Thanksgiving and Christmas will soon be here? That means we will be adding even more chaos to our very busy schedules! Remember to stop and count your blessings when you begin to feel overwhelmed. The moments of chaos with your family can make a lifetime of memories.
This time of the year can get overwhelming with all the activities and commitments we add to our schedules. Instead of feeling stressed out, take a few minutes to reflect on God’s goodness in your life. He knows what you need and what your family needs. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get that to-do list finished today. Even if you get everything on your list accomplished, there will be a new set of challenges tomorrow!
When you spend time alone with your our Heavenly Father it helps keep your perspective and our priorities straight. I pray that as we enter into the busy holiday season we will remain focused on Jesus Christ our Savior. Treasure all of the memories that will be made with your families!
May we take the time to be thankful for all the blessings that the Lord has given to each of us as we gather with our families for Thanksgiving. May our Christmas celebrations keep Jesus as our main focus! The baby born in the manger is still changing lives today. Only He can set the captive free! He is the Light that can shine through us to reach this lost, dark world.
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
I don’t normally head to the airport at sunrise. Having an adult child home for the weekend makes you willing. Heading down the interstate toward the airport we rounded the curve at the junction headed straight into the sun bursting over the horizon.
As I maintained what I thought to be the correct trajectory, my daughter flipped down my visor to block the worst of the glare. Through the hazy, bug-splattered window I could make out enough of the traffic to follow along in an orderly fashion. Shortly we were in the shade of the office buildings of the city center and I could suddenly see clearly again. I’d not noticed how terribly dirty my windshield was until the bright light of the sun hit me head on from ground level.
Knowing me as she does, my daughter commented, “I’m sure there’s a spiritual lesson in this.”
To which I replied, “You betcha!”
But the master Teacher’s lesson on light was not over for me that day.
What had started as tenderness in my left eye the day before had multiplied and turn into swelling and genuine pain by the time of my morning airport run. Driving home after dropping her off I realized my eyes were sensitive to the light and there would be no way I could manage the lesson writing and computer work awaiting me for this day, so I detoured by the eye doctor and waited for them to open.
I was shown into a dimly lit examination room, and soon evaluated by my optometrist. She had me put my chin up on the equipment and promptly shown a bright light into my eyes to check me thoroughly. After determining it was a mild infection, she sent me on my way with a prescription and thorough instructions for care and follow up.
Here I sit, typing through a haze of eye ointment and squinting to keep out the extra light. The typing is slow and mistakes are rampant. But just as I’m thinking I need to give up for now, my husband arrives in my outdoor office with the umbrella. My aching eye is shielded from the glare and I am able to continue.
What lessons came through this? Well…
We can look through our life on an ordinary day with normal light conditions and we appear to be a clear, clean windshield. We pat ourselves on the back and head out into our day thinking we are just fine. But when the Father shines the intense rays of His light onto our lives two things happen. One, we are blinded by the radiance of His holy glory. Two, the dark, dim, dirtiness of our lives and of the world become immediately obvious under the intense brightness of His light. We see that we need to clean our windshield (life) of all the little sins we had let slide by unnoticed in the faint light of the world.
Just as our physical eyes can only see when there is a source of light and can see better with a better light source, so are our spiritual eyes. We cannot manage to effectively live out our daily lives without God’s illumination. Are we sensitive to His light? Do we work through our days with muddled vision or in the clear spiritual insight of the Father’s glow?
God’s illumination examines our spiritual eyes and points us to His cure. Psalm 139 ends with a beautiful prayer in verses 23 and 24. “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Do we go to the Great Physician when our sight is dimmed and we can’t see what to do next? Do we allow Him to shine His bright light into our souls and search us, diagnose us, and prescribe what needs to be done? Do we take His prescription to heart and let our lives be changed by His instruction?
Blurry spiritual vision will cause us to struggle through our days. Ordinary things will be challenging. Difficult things will overwhelm us. But Father God provides the umbrella to shade us where the light is useful to our weary eyes. He is patient and tender, providing what we need to continue in the work He has called us to.
The Father has given us the Holy Spirit to teach us and reveal the things of God to us. He is at work in our lives daily. He uses word pictures to get our attention and teach us volumes.
Psalm 119:105 speaks the familiar but oft forgotten message: “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” Allow God’s light to shine on your path today. Allow His examination and His pointing out of sin. Seek His direction and prescription.
by guest contributor Katie Faris (Re-blogged with permission. Check out her page and blog.)
On a recent family road trip, we stopped at least once an hour. No exaggeration. By the fifth potty stop for the same child, it was all I could do to hold my tongue as we walked to the restroom. I felt impatience filling me like a balloon, and I was about to burst.
I can’t even tell you which rest stop it was or what state we were in, but the Lord reminded me of this verse tucked into Genesis, “…I will lead on slowly…at the pace of the children” (Gen 33:14). Jacob’s words slow me down every time.
At the pace of the children…
When my son can’t find his shoe and everyone else is in the car.
When my daughter takes twice as long to eat her lunch as the rest of her siblings.
When my two-year-old decides to potty-train, something I didn’t write on the agenda for the first week of school.
When one child takes longer to learn to read than other siblings.
When a sleepy toddler needs to be carried halfway through a family walk.
Whenever I feel like a child is slowing me down; whenever my plans or time schedule are interrupted; whenever my children move slower than I prefer, I remember—
At the pace of the children.
Isaiah says that God is like a shepherd who will “gently lead those that are with young.” God is gentle, displaying great forbearance and patience with us.
And these truths deflate that balloon inside of me, the one so close to bursting. So much more is at stake on this parenting journey than reaching our destination at a certain time.
How I think about, speak to, treat, and behave when my child’s bladder is full matters. Will I display love, patience, forbearance, and kindness? Or disdain, impatience, rudeness, and angry words?
Will I treat my children as I’ve been treated? Will I remember my Savior’s patience with me? Will I build margin into our life together?
What will my children remember from our road trip? What will they remember from their childhood?
After our bags are unpacked and the car is unloaded, I stop my husband and thank him. I thank him for leading us home at the pace of the children. And I thank God for being patient with me.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here. Our little community has put the snowflakes up on the power poles, a sure sign the holiday season has begun. This year I want a slower pace and more precious time with family and friends, more kindness, and less stress. You too? I was taught this lesson several year ago, but still have to make a conscious choice each year and remind myself to be intentional about it…
I was a busy mom. Raising four little kids, homeschooling, teaching and singing at church. Our life seemed like an a carnival ride, round and round all day, here and there, up and down, and then stop at night to reload and go all over again! I loved it! Go, do, play, cook, read, learn, those are some of my favorite things. But I must admit, it often brought out the worst in me. Especially around Thanksgiving and Christmas when the busy-ness multiplied.
That year my baby was 2 1/2, a grandparent had been hospitalized and gone to rehab due to a stroke, and I was part of a week long nightly Christmas pageant at the new church we had joined. The holiday rush began to set in a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving with us juggling all this plus planning for that meal and another big event, a family birthday the week before Turkey Day. Between teaching the kids, keeping the house running, tending to sick grandparents, and all these extra events, I was frazzled.
Now I don’t know about you, but when I get overly busy, frustrated and overwhelmed, I’m not so nice. I was short-tempered with my husband, always rushing the kids around, and generally grumpy from trying to plan all the events and balance all my spinning plates. I’ve always tried to speak as kindly to my kids as I can. I wanted a peaceful home. How could I expect them to speak gently and kindly to their siblings if I was screaming and griping all day? So much of my frustration boils and simmers in my mind until I can’t control it and angry words pop out.
One particular day I planned some Christmas shopping for after school. These were pre-Amazon days, so I had to actually go to the stores to shop. All day long I’d been telling the kids, “Get your work done. We’re going Christmas shopping after you finish school.” As Murphy’s law would have it, every child seemed to be needy that day. Slogging through schoolwork seemed slower than ever, and my grumpy-meter was ramping up.
As the last child finished their assignments, I bustled them off to get shoes on and head to the car. I got myself together and grabbed my keys heading to the garage. The three oldest had already gone to the car, but there stood the 2-year-old in the kitchen without his shoes tied. He was my slow-moving, happy, gentle child.
In a rush I piped up with something to the effect of “What are you doing? We gotta go!”
He looked up at me with gentle, toddler eyes and said, “Are you mean at me, Mommy?”
“No I’m not mad at you!” I retorted quickly.
“You sound mean at me,” he replied tenderly.
I immediately realized my problem, knelt down beside him, changed my tone, and said, “No sweetie, Mommy is not mad. Mommy is in a rush. We need to get in the car and get our Christmas shopping done.”
As I tied his shoes, he leaned over and hugged my neck. All was forgiven. Toddlers are good at that.
We got the shoes fixed, dashed to the car and got a few presents purchased that afternoon. It turned out to be a good day, and a life-changing one. I still remember the lesson learned. Kindness and a gentle tone are always in order.
There are many reminders in the book of Proverbs about our speech and kindness and gentleness.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.
When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, But he who restrains his lips is wise.
Pleasant words are a honeycomb, Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
As we get going with our busy November and December, would you join me in seeking to display kindness, compassion, tender words, and gentle tones. Let’s slow down and allow our hearts time to rest and meditate on things we are grateful for, especially the Son of God sent as a babe in a manger for our salvation. Avoid the overcommitment and rush, and allow margin each day: time to ponder, to enjoy, to revel in the love of Christ and those we love. This holiday season, let us guard our time, guard our hearts, and guard our tongues – not only for words but for the tone we use.
We Americans have a love-hate relationship with that word. We hate to apply “humble” to ourselves, but we respect humility from others? Is it that when another acts humbly toward us we often come out the winner in the situation, but when we have to humble ourselves we feel as if we’ve lost?
James 4:6 tells us that “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”
Yikes! That’s serious. Do we want to be in opposition with God? Don’t we want God’s favor, or “grace” as some versions translate it?
Ephesians 4:2 says, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Completely humble? Really? Can’t I even put myself first occasionally? This is a hard teaching. It is a teaching that can only be obeyed when we allow the Spirit to conform us to the image of the Son of God.
Philippians 2 gives us some commands and our example to follow. It says:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!
Philippians 2:3-8 NIV
The Message lays out thees first commands for us in language that hits home.
Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.
Philippians 2:3-5 The Message
We’re no-good at forgetting ourselves or putting ourselves aside. Aren’t we trained from grade school to want to be the first in line? Haven’t we bought into our society’s push to get the advantage even at the expense of others. Even in Christian circles. We go online at midnight to get the prime seats for a Christian concert before someone else beats us out! America and Pride go hand in hand. I love America and am not trying to slight her, but we Americans have our failings. Worse, we Christian Americans are as caught up in the selfish, “me first” pride of our society as the world is.
I encourage you as I challenge myself, let’s choose “humble” as our moniker. Let’s let the Spirit teach us to choose humility. It may be only once this week or each day to start with. But as we seek to live as our Savior did we will begin to lay down that “striving for equality” and “one-up-man-ship.”
We will quit manipulating every situation to our advantage.
We’ll choose to make ourselves nothing.
We will willingly embrace the nature of being a servant to our fellow man.
We will choose to humble ourselves as Jesus did.
We will obey God – even to the point of self-denial and death to self-will.