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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankfulness and Love

I truly love those mornings when as soon as I open my eyes, thankful thoughts fill my mind. I love it when God passes my way and reminds me of my blessings. I love it when He shows me of His love and then burdens my heart to give His wonderful love to others. There is absolutely nothing as wonderful as God’s love. So if you asked me to sum up what I’m most thankful for today, it would definitely be God’s amazing love.

Love is, or should be, the very center of our lives. It should be the foundation that everything else stems from. It should be given and received unconditionally. There should never be any basis for why we love others. There should never be anything that anyone could do to destroy our love either. I believe if we walk in that love every single day of our lives, then we will be well pleasing to God and much happier.

I’m learning to be thankful for the things I have, instead of crying for what I don’t have. I’m learning that if I really think about it, my blessings have no bounds. Recently I heard someone say, that they have only one thing to be thankful for and it broke my heart. So often we are our own worst enemy. We allow the devil to beat us down so that we start drowning in our own self-pity. He loves it when He can make us feel like we have absolutely nothing to be thankful for. However, if we look to God and ask Him to help us see our blessings, then we will be astounded by His wonderful grace and mercy, just for us.

I have started training myself to see the bright side of EVERY situation. Regardless of what happens to me, I examine the situation and try to find the good in it. In doing that I have recently discovered God is so much better than I realized. He does what is best for us in every situation, not what we want or believe we deserve. He wants us to recognize His wonderful love and mercy, grace and forgiveness every day, in every situation.

As I’ve said previously, I’m learning to be nicer to myself and forgive myself easier for my shortcomings and failures. I desire to be more like Jesus. I want to be the best person I can be. I desire to know more about my Lord. I love to read the scriptures and see how things were handled years ago and the examples left for us. I love to talk to people and tell them how wonderful my God is to me. We are left in this world to give others a little glimpse of God through us. If we always have our heads down thinking how pitiful we are, then how can we give God any glory? If we are always complaining, then how can we possibly show anyone the beauty in our hearts?

To be happy is simply a choice. No one can make us happy or cause us to have a bad day. We are more in control of our lives than we even realize. It’s about purposing it in our hearts to be happy and doing everything possible to achieve our goals. It’s about getting back up once we fall down and knowing that if we’re going through a hard time—HELP is on the way!

I love happy thoughts. I love to think about my blessings. I love to pray for others and take them into my heart. I love to tell of the wondrous works of my God. And most of all, I love to be thankful!

Try it! You will be amazed at how it will transform your life. Every day can be like Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Making a Difference

What if we all pledged in our hearts right now to make a difference in some way, in someone’s life? Do you realize that we could change the world? Kindness often has a boomerang effect. One smile could multiply into hundreds, then thousands, and before you know it everyone would be smiling and ultimately happier.

Sounds absolutely wonderful doesn’t it? Then why don’t we strive to make it happen?

We often complain about the government or the horrific things happening around us, but what we fail to see is that it doesn’t really matter what is happening around us, we can still elect to be happy. Happiness shouldn’t be based on a certain criteria, if that were the case it would be impossible to be achieved. It should be strived for daily. In my life, I have learned happiness is not the absence of sadness or depression— it is the overcoming of it.

There will ALWAYS be obstacles we have to overcome. There is always going to be someone who will do something to upset us. There will always be tough situations and things which happen beyond our control. I have learned we cannot control what happens around us, but we can control how we react to it.

We didn’t get to choose our hair or eye color. We didn’t get to choose our parents or siblings. Where we would grow up or the morals and values taught to us. However, we can choose the type of person we want to be right now. There has to come a point in our lives, where we take responsibility for our own actions and choices. You can only blame your parents or bad things that happened to you for so long. Those things might have contributed to bad choices or made you feel bad, but you have the power to stop it right now, before it destroys the rest of your life.

The key is to look for the bright side of it all. There is a reason these things happen and it all happens for our benefit. For example, I pulled out a few of my rejection letters. When they arrived in the mail previously, they nearly devastated me. I would cry and be sad for days. Looking at them now has a different effect. I want to hug each and every person who rejected me. They helped me along my journey to publication and helped me to my wonderful publisher and illustrator for Zippy.  

I believe we are all right where we want to be in our lives. I believe we are all the type of person we want to be. We all have the type of relationship we want with God, our family and friends, and ourselves. Most often times you get out of things whatever you put into it.  

I have found it is so easy to look at other people and judge their lives. Yet, how do we know that we would handle their situation differently? Without the knowledge of their feelings, we cannot assume we would do it differently. We might do worse.

Lately is seems everyone wants to put down those on drugs and alcohol. People often want to take the high and mighty stance and look down on others. Instead of trying to knock those suffering down, we need to lift them up to the Lord in prayer. We need to find a quiet place out of the world and pray for those who have lost their lives or the enjoyment of it anyway, to these things. I know without a shadow of a doubt that if I were in their shoes, I would want the church praying for me.

What if God only treated us the way we treat Him and others? I don’t know about you, but I’d be in trouble. However, my Lord is so wonderful! He knows all about me—my shortcomings and failures, and He loves me anyway.

We all have the power to make a difference. We can lift people up or bring them down. We can be a light to others or a stumbling block. We can be the type of person everyone enjoys being around or the type that everyone avoids. We can be kind or hateful. We can celebrate our blessings or allow the devil to take them away. We can open our eyes each morning, dreading another day or wake up so thankful God blessed us with another day to spend with our loved ones.

I’m training myself to only look at the bright side of any situation. I examine my thoughts now and embrace the positive ones and discard the negative ones. I realize I am a work in progress and I’m learning to speak more kindly to myself.  Perhaps I can’t change the whole wide world, but I change the little world I live in. Kindness is a universal language everyone understands.

I believe I can make a difference! What about you?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Voice of Compassion

After having laryngitis all week, I am very thankful for the ability to talk. I never realized how much one person actually talks. And I’ll be the first to admit, some of us talk way more than others. However, not being able to speak at all brought definite challenges to my life.

It’s was hard to wake up my kids. Usually, I walk into their rooms and tell them to wake up. But for days I didn’t have that ability. It took me longer to wake them up or even make them understand what I wanted them to do. I couldn’t help with their homework because I couldn’t explain what they needed to do. When they yelled at me from another room, I couldn’t answer them back. I had to walk in there so they could hear my whisper or write it down so they could read it.

I found myself using fewer words and sometimes just not communicating at all. The effort to talk hurt and it was easier to just remain silent. I would sit around and listen to what everyone else had to say and not even try to join in the conversation. And then I thought, maybe God just wants me to listen for awhile.

While I have always heard that we shouldn’t question God, sometimes I do. Not because I’m angry with Him or trying to demand answers, but because I want to know more about Him and His ways. I believe He does everything for a reason and sometimes if I don’t think or wonder about a situation, then I might miss the whole point of the trial I’m encountering. I want to know why things happen to me so I can understand and grow. I believe everything that happens to us provides us with a great opportunity to understand more about our Lord. I think God wants us to search for answers and reflect on our life. Sometimes the knowledge of why things happen changes everything. And then again, some things are certainly not meant for us to understand.

For example, I had a school visit scheduled for Wednesday. I tried so hard to get better in time. I rested my voice, took my vitamins, drank lots of fluids, etc., but nothing helped. It made me feel bad to cancel. Then I realized, what if there was someone who needed to hear Zippy’s story that couldn’t be there that day. So often we blame things that happen on luck or coincidence, but I believe it’s neither. I believe it is God making sure we are exactly where He wants us to be.

Every once in awhile it’s good to be reminded of our blessings and how much we take for granted. We just expect everything in our lives to go great. We expect for everything to be easy and work out just perfectly. And when it doesn’t we get mad at God. I am leaning to stop and think about things. When I do, I can see a whole realm of possibilities, otherwise overlooked.

I may not know why everything happens to me and just to be honest, some of it I probably don’t want or need to know, but I know in every situation—God is good. He is so merciful and longsuffering. He is faithful and strong. He loves me more than I can imagine or understand. He always has my best interest in mind. His blessings always exceed any heartache.

Sometimes he puts us through things to teach us about compassion. A brief walk in another’s shoes can show us more than words or explanations ever could.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

And I Owe it All to You Lord

Even though I know my Lord is so great, I’m so thankful that He continues to amaze and bless me in ways I never dreamed possible. Just when you think it can’t possibly get any better, it does. I know I’ve said this many times before, but some things are just worth repeating, my God is a wonderful paymaster.

I have learned recently that while God is a wonderful giver of blessings, the devil is a stealer of them. He wants to take them away from us. Anytime he can make us doubt, cause us pain, and distract us from God’s work then he has succeeded. And he isn’t just the negative voice inside our head. Sometimes he uses those we love to hurt us, in ways that we never dreamed possible.

I’m a loving person who HATES to hurt other people. I can’t bear to hurt someone accidently, but intentionally is inconceivable to me. Maybe my stern opinion stems from a lifetime of being hurt, but I never want to be the bearer of heartache. I would rather be hurt tenfold than to cause someone else a moment of anguish. I want to be the type of person to help someone up, instead of being the one to knock them down.

However, I have learned not everyone shares my beliefs. Some people hate to see others succeed. They hate to see others prosper in their journey of life. They are so miserable in their own lives that they try to destroy everyone around them. They want to be the bowling ball and knock down whoever gets in their paths.  They love darkness rather than light. They get pleasure out of other people’s pain.

Well, I won’t deny that some have hurt my feelings. I’m not as strong as some might think, in all reality, I’m weak and vulnerable. I try so hard to treat other people the way I want to be treated. If I treated some how they treat me, then I would be ashamed. I’ve been allowing the devil to steal my blessings. I have allowed him to make me focus on the ones who are not supportive of me, instead of all the ones who are. I’ve allowed him to use the people who hate me to hurt me. I have learned in life, if I’m expecting the blows then I can be prepared. I can plant my feet just right and pray my way through it. But when they come unexpectedly, they knock me down and hurt so much worse. However, my God is always there to pick me up and wrap me in His arms of love and peace.

And when I look to Him, He always makes it all better. He may not change my situation, but He can change my perspective. He can give me a prayer to pray for those who have hurt me and a few tears to use on their behalf. He is my strength and my shield. He is the giver of all of my blessings.

He is the One who has blessed my life so richly. He is the One who blessed me to live. He is the One who saved my soul. He is the One who gave me such a wonderful family to support me and love me. He is the One who gave me a husband to love me unconditionally and children to brighten my life. He is the One who gave me the gift to write and the faith to see it through. He is the One who stepped in when the time was just right and blessed my books to be published. He is the One who carries my every burden and sees me through every obstacle.

He loves all of His children unconditionally and He has blessings for them all. Don’t allow the devil to steal your blessings, too. Don’t allow him to take away your opportunity to be saved! Don’t allow him to take away all of the good things God has planned for your life. God has the power to bless your life in a way that your mind can’t imagine, but your heart desires.

Everything in my life that is good comes from God. I owe it all to Him.

Author shares message through Zippy the zebra