30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness: Day 24 – Family & Friends

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

No sorrow in a family is so great that God cannot take that sorrow and create something beautiful in its place.

Scripture of the Day:

1 Peter 2:10

“Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

Psalm 68:5

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.”

What a good God Who would provide family. From the beginning He saw that it was not good for man to be alone, so He provided a wife for Adam. The fruit of the union of man and wife is the greatest privilege man is given – to raise children for the LORD.

In His wise design, He provided people to surround us with love and counsel as we walk through the few days we are given in this life. To be loved by my husband has brought immense healing to my heart that seemed irreparably broken. Likewise, it has been the greatest joy to be able to love my children unconditionally and to show them the truth God has revealed to me. Watching them grow up and develop their own relationship with God brings this mom joy inexpressible.

But sometimes in the midst of God’s perfect plan, the institution of the family is attacked. Individual sin, death of loved ones or political agendas threaten to undo what God put in place for our joy and protection.

Families are an anchor for our souls as we travel through this world. They can be a source of the greatest acceptance and comfort or the source of the greatest agony and suffering. What God can do to a family yielded to Him is nothing short of miraculous. While no family is perfect, God’s plan will not be thwarted and ultimately we have a family that will last forever.

In a day and age where broken families are more the norm than families who have not experienced brokenness, there is a family that is never broken – the family of God. If you are alone this holiday, please know that you are not ever alone. Come and join the family. You are loved and accepted – just receive the free gift of a forever family that God has given to you. Join a Bible-believing church and watch how God makes strangers into brothers and sisters making up the body of Christ – a family of friends that reflects His glory.

Lord, I am so very grateful for your redemption and for the precious family that You have given me – in the flesh and in the Spirit. No sorrow in a family is so great that you cannot take that sorrow and create something beautiful in its place. I love, You, Lord. Thank You for being the Abba Father to all. I pray many more will come to accept Your invitation and know the peace of God we can have on this earth, no matter what family we come from.

A Season of Thankfulness: Day 5 – Nothing is Wasted

Ecclesiastes 1:8-10

8 All this monotony is tiresome; no one can bear to describe it: The eye is never satisfied with seeing, nor is the ear ever content with hearing. 9 What exists now is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing truly new on earth. 10 Is there anything about which someone can say, “Look at this! It is new!”? It was already done long ago, before our time.

If this world is all we have to live for, perhaps Solomon’s insight would ring true, but not so for the believer.

To a parent changing diapers and attending to screaming kids with snotty noses, seemingly mundane chores become a holy work, changing our character and molding us into His image.  Selfishness is washed away as we are absorbed in the well being of others.

To a farmer striving to yield a bountiful harvest yet confronted with the brutal realities of drought or a flood, reliance on self dissipates and a dependence on the God over all becomes paramount.

To the family head, struggling to make ends meet, waiting for the next paycheck or provision to come and overcome by bill collectors, faith begins to blossom in the midst of hardship.  Insight is formed, revealing that provision was not to be chased after in the first place.  God is our Provider.

To church leaders dealing with complaining sheep, their work becomes a holy endeavor as God changes their heart and perspective toward the people God calls them to minister to.  They discover that this calling is for God’s glory and not their own, not about them at all.  Offenses are dismissed and concern is raised for the offended one, instead.

To the sick who wonder if God cares at all, He shows the need for spiritual healing and uses the affliction to draw us nearer. He becomes our comfort in the midst of pain and humbles us to depend on Him.

To the wounded, broken heart, shattered by another’s sin – God sees you.  Even this is not wasted in His hands.  Instead of death, if we hope and wait on Him, He will turn our greatest sorrow into a thing of beauty.  Suddenly our eyes are opened to realize that a human being was never supposed to be our joy or our life.  Hoping in fallible humans is idolatry and temporary, but hoping in our living, loving God is eternal.

Everything is vanity apart from God, but everything done in Him has a purpose.  All of the wearisome repetitiveness and burdens of this life are working something great for those who will see more deeply. Thank God that we serve a God where nothing is meaningless and nothing is wasted.  He uses it all.

Solomon was the wisest man and yet he chose women who ultimately turned his heart from God and cursed the next generation.  Big consequences for someone who had allowed his blessings to become his snare.  Boredom replaced gratitude and awe over all that God had provided.

Mundanity has its purpose, after all.  Satisfaction was never meant to be fulfilled completely apart from Christ.  In the endless pursuit of meaning and happiness in a world that could never deliver that quest, we finally end up at His feet, where we were always meant to be.

Lord, all of the tasks, burdens, joys and sorrows are ultimately serving Your purpose in our lives and in this world.  Give us Your eyes and understanding and the wisdom to walk and chase after You, not the things of this world that always disappoint us.  Thank You for being our sovereign God who wastes nothing.

All Part of One Dysfunctional Family

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John 1:12

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”

Ephesians 2:19-22 

“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” 

I confess that I used to dread reading through geneologies, but now I cherish reading them, one name at a time.  I know, it must not take much to entertain me, right?  But behind each name is a story, and often one of dysfunction.  Why does this comfort me, you may ask?  Because these names that are a part of the line that lead to our Emmanuel were not perfect families which were a part of God’s background.  The Son of God chose sinful man to be a part of His lineage.

A prostitute, adulterers, murderers, foreigners, deceivers, in-laws, non-biological parents, idol worshipers, and the list goes on and on.  I love when I see families who leave a godly heritage, generation after generation, with no divorce.  I wish that could have been my story, and yet I don’t.  We can still leave a godly heritage to our children when our story has not been perfect.  It is in the scars, in the hurt, in the reality of not being perfect that I was able to be embraced by my Savior, my Kinsman Redeemer, Who makes all things new.  This fallen world and any labels people want to affix to people who are broken by sin’s stain, has no hold on me.  I am a part of God’s family, too.

As a little girl I recall feeling strange as a child of divorce.  Moving multiple times between homes was my newly accepted norm.  When I came to know Jesus in college, I was excited about being in a Christian marriage one day and teaching my children about Jesus’ loving salvation.  I married a Christian man and raised my children in the LORD.  Little did I know the secret my now former husband had, which would break up my “perfect” family.  How could this happen?  How could God receive glory from such sin?  And yet the hand of God guided me and led me to remarry a man who also had his heart broken.  The Brady Bunch, indeed.  So now, where did our family fit in?  With God.

It still amazes me.  Why did God choose us?  To show His great mercy.  To lavish His love upon His children.  To heal.  Whenever we begin to look at ourselves and compare to someone else, we need to remember that we cannot always see someone else’s struggle, and ultimately we are all the same in God’s eyes – all a part of His cherished family.  Whatever you have been through, You belong to Him, and that is all that matters.  The church is the family of God and is full of dysfunctional people, too.  That is why we need a Savior.  If you are a new believer, welcome to the family – love you!  We are not perfect, but we are being made into His image, day by day.

Lord, heal hearts and families today that need to know they are accepted in Your sight.  May You be glorified in our families and our churches.

Life in Death Part two – Finding Freedom

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Writing 101, Day Thirteen: Serial Killer II

Earlier in the course, you wrote about losing something. Today, write about finding something. For your twist, view day four’s post and today’s post as installments in a series.

PART TWO – Finding Freedom

The evidence of a disaster was all around us.  Shattered dreams and broken lives.  The reality of our circumstances was to hard to accept, but it was true.  The father of my children was removed within a day of the Lord revealing his sin.  The person we thought we knew was someone completely different.  What now?

Our innocence lost, it would seem there was no hope of recovery.  But sometimes you have to get lost to be found.  Sometimes what you thought was good was not what it seemed.  Perspectives change in a flash, when the reality of the damage becomes clearer.  No, we were not suffering in vain –  we were delivered.

In place of a facade of  a perfect family that we thought we had, there was raw pain but there was healing and in that place of suffering our eyes were opened.  Opened to the enslavement we had been living under and to the subtle underlying deception that encompassed us.  We had lost much; all we knew and trusted was blown away – but we had found something far greater – our freedom, wisdom and insight.

PART ONE (From Day 4 – previously posted)

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When I was a girl, I dreamed about happily ever after.  Guess it depends on what the definition of happiness is.  If happiness was defined as being happily married, having healthy children, wealth and minimal problems in your life, then I do not know whether anyone will every achieve perfect tranquility and bliss, known as happiness.  But for a short while I thought I had it.  Despite a bumpy childhood, I thought I could have the perfect family and lasting joy.  Then the enemy of our souls came and snatched it away . . . seemingly.

My family would never be the same, and the father of my children was to blame.  The death of our family as we knew it was agonizing and there was no escape from the mark it had left.  The signs of death were all around . . . functioning on a normal level was hampered, and life just seemed numb.  The children and I clung to one another, knowing God was going to take our pain and use it for good.

But then, what did normal look like?  How do we move on from this place of death?  Perhaps the death of what we idolized was more painful than we could imagine, but would also open our eyes to what in fact was wrong with what we were considering happiness…