Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Thanksgivings

One of the best things I've done this year is start a list of 1,000 things I'm thankful for.   Here are a few things from my list this month...

The smell of fresh cut Christmas trees

Christmas lights reflected in the window

Making gingerbread houses with friends

Drinking hot chocolate and watching "Elf" outside with the neighbors

A daddy/daughter dance date

A Baylor Heisman winner who gives credit to God

Moms who pray for their kids' teachers and then take them cookies

Having a cup of tea at the Jefferson Hotel while watching Audra sing

Watching Will and his friends sing Christmas carols at the Jingle Bell Run

Boys sleeping under the Christmas tree

Ice skating outside

Celebrating 18 years of marriage

722. A crisp, quiet morning
723. A cup of tea and my Bible
728. God's grace measured in proportion to my need
731. A shoulder to cry on
741. Un-rushed family dinners
744. Package deliveries
745. A date with my daughter
749. Reading a book by the fire
750. Flannel sheets
752. Someone saving me a seat 
753. A new friend who dreamed we were moving--and cried!
756. Christmas cards in the mail
758. Pumpkin bread ready to be delivered to the neighbors
760. Finding the perfect gift
761. Sharing the comfort I've received
768. Having tea in a friend's kitchen
770. Frosted sugar cookies
780. Newborn baby bundles
788. Seeing someone I know when I'm out Christmas shopping
791. Dinner by the fireplace
794. Arms full of Christmas goodies from friends at church

I have so many good things to be thankful for!  
But last week I put something on the list that wasn't so good, but I was trying to "Give thanks in all things."  

767. A broken retainer

I didn't feel like giving thanks for that, but I did out of obedience.  ("I don't know why, but thank you Lord for broken retainers.") 
 Somehow Will's retainer was on the floor and somehow Richard stepped on it.  We had just been to the orthodontist the day before.  I was not happy with how Will's teeth were looking and I did not want to spend $200 for a new retainer.  I was grumpy, grouchy, and not happy or thankful, but I gave thanks anyway.  Hmpff!  A couple of days later I took Will back to the orthodontist to get fitted for a new retainer.  I was getting my teeth cleaned on the other side of the building so I left him in the waiting area with a note for the doctor.  In the note I might possibly have mentioned that when I first saw Will after he got his braces off I thought he was wearing "those fake teeth you wear at Halloween," but I said it in a very nice way and I signed it "weary mother of three kids with braces".  After reading the note, the doctor came and found me and thanked me for writing it and telling him what I was thinking.  He assured me that this was only the first phase of Will's treatment and that his teeth would look better when it's all over (in a few years).  Then he said that he looked at the broken retainer  pieces I had included with the note and that it shouldn't have broken like that.  (You mean Richard should be able to step on them?)  He said this new retainer would be "on him".  Whoo-hoo!!!! 
  I gave thanks for a not-good thing and God changed it into a blessing.  Does that always happen?  Well, I don't always get free retainers, but I do think that if we thank God for the good things AND the bad things, we will always be blessed.

Merry CHRISTmas!!!!!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Joseph's Choice

When Joseph was confronted with a pregnant fiancee, he had a choice to make.  He could choose scorn, shame, and an uncertain future, or he could quietly break his marriage agreement and walk away.  Marrying a woman impregnated by God was not what he expected.  It wasn't the respectable, uncomplicated life he had imagined.  But think of what he would have missed out on if he had rejected God's plan for his life because he thought what God was asking him to do was too hard.
He would have missed out on the nativity.
He would have missed out on hearing the testimony of the shepherds.
He would have missed out on the visit from the wise men.
He would have missed out on holding the promised Messiah in his arms.
He would have missed out on taking the son of God to house of God.
He would have missed out on being the earthly father of the eternal King.
Joseph accepted God's will, as difficult as it was, and was blessed by it.

Like Joseph, we all are confronted with life's interruptions.  Unlike Joseph, most of us aren't given a choice.  We are forced to learn to live a life we never imagined.  And we think what God is asking us to do is too hard.  We may not get to choose our circumstances, but we do get to choose how we respond to them.  Will we accept God's will for our life even if it's not what we want--even if it seems too hard?

The prophet Ezekiel describes an encounter he had with the Lord.  God told him, "Open your mouth and eat what I give you."  Then Ezekiel saw a hand reaching out to him.  It held a scroll covered with funeral songs, other words of sorrow, and pronouncements of doom.  Then a voice said, "Eat what I am giving you."  So Ezekiel opened his mouth and ate it and it tasted as sweet as honey.

God interrupted my life and what he gave me to eat was lament, mourning, and woe.  At first all I could taste was bitterness.  But as I ate it; as I lived it; as I accepted it from God's hand--those things that I thought could only bring pain and sorrow have brought wisdom, perspective, purpose and strength.  Those events that appeared tragic and unable to be redeemed, have now become the sweetest part of me.  I trust that, like Joseph, God has a plan for my life.  And so I will continue to say, "Yes" to God and eat what he gives me.
Because I don't want to miss out on anything.