Monthly Archives: November 2008

Giving Thanks

I am the intecessor team captain for the worship ministry leadership team at my church. That simply means I get the prayer requests from the worship pastor and those on his team and send them out to the rest of the prayer team. And of course, I pray for the requests, too. Something that God has led me to do with this emails, is to start them off with what I call the “devotional thought for the week”. I just sent this one out this week and thought I would share it with my blog-friends.

“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us, and we are His;
We are His people, the sheep of His pasture.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise;
Give thanks to Him and praise His name.
For the Lord is good and His love endures forever;
His faithfulness continues through all generations.” – Psalm 100 (NIV)

I know this is the traditional passage to hear at Thanksgiving. I have heard it so often that I have taken it for granted. That’s pretty bad – taking a passage about giving thanks for granted – isn’t it? However, lately God has been showing me some stuff about giving thanks to Him and when I read this passage in the NIV, some words jumped out at me that also changed my perspective.
I ask the Lord for a lot of things when I pray. From the “God-things” (like my dad being miraculously healed) to the “mundane” (like keep us safe and well today). What God is showing me though, is that He takes every request seriously. When I have had a good day and everyone is well, I am guilty of taking it for granted. But when I’ve had a bad day, or when one of us has gotten hurt or sick, I complain. God is convicting me that I need to be mindful of His hand orchestrating things in response to what I prayed for. Not because I’m all that great or because my prayers are all that great, but because it’s what He does. He listens to the prayers of His people. So, when I pray for safety and we have an uneventful, safe day, I need to express my gratitude to Him for answering that prayer.(you would think that being a cop’s wife I would never take our family’s safety for granted.) And when we have a bad day dealing with sickness or injury – or the fender-bender yesterday, I need to trust that God was still listening when I prayed for safety/health and therefore He must have some greater reason for allowing us to deal with these incidents. And I still need to come before Him with gladness and thanksgiving, trusting that He will work all of it for our good.
All of that to say – what God is showing me is that we are the sheep of His pasture. Sheep who are totally dependent on their Shepherd for every little thing we receive, and we/I need to thank Him accordingly. My life should be a song of thanksgiving to God – for the good things, for the not-so-good things, and even for the down-right hard things; for the miraculous God things, and for the everyday mundane things.
The other thing I noticed when I read this in the NIV today, is the first word in verse 2 – “Worship the Lord with gladness”. In the KJV, the word right there is “Serve the Lord with gladness”. It goes back to what I was trying to say last week about making my life an act of worship. I looked up that word in the Strong’s Concordance. It has a lot of words there to define this word. Some of them that jumped out at me were: to work, to serve, compel, do, keep, be wrought, worshipper. So to worship the Lord means to work, serve, do, keep, compel. That implies something that I am continuously doing, not just at church, but also when I am at home doing my “mundane” stay-at-home-mom things. My life must become a sacrifice of praise – of worship. And when I have the right perspective on my total dependence on God and thank Him for it accordingly, it’s much easier for my life to become consumed with worship.

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Lessons Learned This Past Week

First of all, for those of you who took the time to tell me which photo I should submit for the contest from my previous post, thanks. As you may have noticed, I never got around to entering the contest. Life got busy. But it was fun hearing all of your comments about the 2 photos!

Last week was, stressful, exhausting, and enlightening. Saturday and Tuesday nights, I only got about 2 hours of sleep due to a sick, fussy baby. That just threw my week into complete disorder. However, I learned a few important lessons from the week, and I’d like to share them with you.

1) God’s grace and strength really are sufficient. There is no other reason I made it through Wednesday in particular. I was beyond exhausted, and yet somehow I was able to do all the things I normally do on a Wednesday – getting Harris to school, going to Bible study, getting everyone to church that night, and going to orchestra rehearsal. And I did it in a sweet attitude, which is proof that it was God’s supernatural strength in me because I am not a nice person when I don’t get enough sleep.

2) You can really feel people’s prayers lifting you up if you take the time to notice. I already knew this, but it’s always a cool thing to have reinforced. I noticed that the times I should have felt the sleepiest – like when I was driving – is when I felt the best. Or just when I was really dragging and thinking I wasn’t going to make it after all, I would suddenly be filled with energy. I wish I could stay in that mind set of feeling God’s grace and strength and the prayers of friends and family like that all the time. Not only is it encouraging, but it also would give me the courage to live the life God has called me to live.

3) The joy of the Lord is my strength. When I focused on myself and how tired I was, I felt terrible. I had someone in the middle of the day email me and remind me of that verse about the joy of the Lord being our strength, and so I decided to focus on that for the rest of the day. It was amazing the difference it made in how I felt.

4) Harris need more one-on-one time with Preston and me. He had some time with each of us by himself this past week and he just soaked it up. I was reminded once again that his love language is quality time. And it doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just driving to the store or picking him up from school while David and Amy Beth stay home with Preston is enough to light up his face. I need to plan more opportunities for him to have that quality time with us.

5) Amy Beth can fall asleep sitting up. Bless her heart, not only did she not sleep well those two nights, but also Wedneday, after not sleeping the night before, hardly slept at all that day either. So on Thursday, even though she slept much better Wednesday night, she was still very tired. That afternoon, the kids and I went to Wal-Mart. I noticed Amy Beth was very still and sedate in the seat of the grocery cart. Usually she is looking all around her in a place like that, making sure she doesn’t miss a thing. I was letting the boys look through the toy section when I noticed Amy Beth was sound asleep in the grocery cart! I wish I had had my camera with me. She was so sweet and cute that I couldn’t let her just sleep there. I picked her up and let her sleep on my shoulder.

6) It is very difficult to hold a sleeping baby on one shoulder, push a shopping cart with the other hand, and keep up with 2 little boys in Wal-Mart, but it IS possible. However, I do not advise trying it out. My arm was like a wet noodle by the time I got to the car and was able to put Amy Beth in her car seat.

7) David is a very compassionate little boy. I knew he was with us. If Harris gets hurt or is upset, David stops whatever he is doing and goes and gets Harris’ blanky for him. When I had my cold and he realized I didn’t feel good, he brought me a “blanky”. However, Saturday he did something that blew me away. We were at his best friend’s birthday party, and they had a pinata. When the candy came pouring out and the kids were scrambling for it, one of the boys there was a little overwhelmed by it all and got upset. When David saw him crying, he took some of his goodies out of his bag (and he hadn’t gotten a lot) and put them in this little boy’s bag and tried talking to him to help him calm down. It was SO sweet and one of my proudest moments as a mom. Of course, I don’t take credit for him being like that. It’s just the way God made him, and I have a responsibility as his parent to not crush that sensitive spirit in him, and to hone it so that it becomes a characteristic that honors God and brings people to Him instead of something that just enables people to sin.

So there are my lessons from the week. Seven lessons for seven days. Even though it was a hard week, I am glad I had the chance to see and learn from it.

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