Monday, November 19, 2018

On My Heart: Gratitude

It is good to give thanks. 

At Thanksgiving time, and all through the year. 
Even every day.
All through the day.

"Make thankfulness your 
sacrifice to God."
(Psalm 50:14a)

"Giving thanks is a sacrifice
that truly honors Me."
(Psalm 50:23a)

What makes thankfulness so essential, so important?
Is it really that crucial? Why are we prompted to hold
thanks in our hearts and to speak it, to give it away,
to bring honor to God, to bless others with it?

Could it be that it also holds the key to a deeper,
life-giving relationship with our Creator, our God?

"When we thank and praise God, 
His presence inhabits our lives more and more.
We might think of thanksgiving as a portal
to the presence of God."

"Enter His gates with thanksgiving
and His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him and bless His name."
(Psalm 100:4)

What could this look like for me, for you?

At the start of the day, as we come to Him, come with
thanks on our lips. Develop a habit of praise, of thanks.
In my journal, it has become my habit, to start out
with thanks, to write out my thanks. A record of thanks.
A gift to Him of my thanks. And it fills me up
with His presence, with joy. A gift to Him that brings joy
to Him ... and also to me. Lifting my thoughts off of the
concerns, the tasks; lifting my heart to Him, to joy.

As we practice this giving of thanks, 
"our minds are primed to notice good things, and so we
become more grateful, joyful, and content". 

And in honoring God with our praise, and in becoming more
aware of His presence and His gifts through our thankfulness,
we become a blessing to others. Gratitude overflows in thanks
and words of affirmation and love to those around us.

"But I will sing of Your strength
and will joyfully proclaim
Your faithful love in the morning.
For You have been a stronghold for me,
a refuge in my day of trouble."
(Psalm 59:16)

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

On My Heart: Rhythms

Sometimes a single word can grab our attention, and not let go. It sticks in our minds, turning over and over. 

This happened for me in October. It was near the end of our 20-day New England Fall Trip. I had a growing desire for a thought, a new idea or perspective to take home with me. Maybe a new word. Going from 20 days of a much-anticipated vacation trip (such a wonderful road trip visiting our son in NYC and then driving up into the New England states to soak up the beauty of autumn colors), back to the fullness and also busyness of daily life ... well, I just wished for some fresh perspective.

And it came. The word kept appearing in various places, repeatedly, and then it stayed with me. I couldn't get it out of my mind. It intrigued me and drew me in. And since then, it has continued to grow as additional layers of understanding and insight are added.

That word is ... r-h-y-t-h-m-s.

The word popped out to me as I started reading the book  Survival Guide for the Soul by Ken Shigematsu near the end of our trip. The first words in the foreword by Ann Voskamp were:

The drowning keep to-do lists.
Soul survivors keep rhythms.

I'm a to-do list person by nature. But when the lists begin to dictate my days, and become my main focus, I can feel like I am drowning. It's easy to slip into a world of to-do lists, as there is always so much to do. And being productive is held in such high value in our world.

But I am intrigued with rhythms. Focusing on rhythms feels more like freedom. It feels like peace and rest; it feels like the life we are meant to live.

Rhythms .. it implies a steady state of being, of living in the present, of being attentive to whatever God has placed before us. It moves and changes with the seasons, even within our day. But it is tethered and secure, peaceful and constant.

It reminds me of some favorite verses of mine from Matthew 11:28-30, from The Message Translation ...

Are you tired? Worn out?
Come to Me.
Get away with Me and you'll recover your life.
I'll show you how to take a real rest.
Walk with Me and work with Me -
watch how I do it.
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.
Keep company with Me,
and you'll learn to live freely and lightly.

I see rhythms in the life of Jesus. He was here on our earth just a short time. Everywhere He looked, everywhere He walked, there were people to care for, a message of hope to share. He did not give in to worry or frenzy in His days, but He modeled rhythms for us. Giving His full attention to the people around Him; spending time with the crowds or spending time with one. And above all, He repeatedly pulled away to spend time with His Father. 

And I want the same ... rhythms of work and of rest. Rhythms of being attentive to what God has for me, of being present with who God places near me. Rhythms of spending quality, consistent time with Him.

There are more thoughts to share, and I'll be back. I'm in a rhythm of work and of rest, of Cru ministry and of home care, of family and of friends, of learning and of sharing. And I'm thankful ...