Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Miracles and Grace

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Today started at off as a blah day - normal morning routine, getting the Little One off to school and then attempting to settle in and get some work done. My thoughts were all over the place - "I hate when our communication is off; this teacher is really getting on my nerves; cleaning this house depresses me; I wish I had a new job."

Usually when I'm like this, I try to figure out what I could do to make myself feel better. I did my daily Bible reading, but I still felt blah. Exercise usually makes me feel better so I did the elliptical for an hour while reading a very inspirational book. This removed the blahs by just a tad, but overall the blah feeling prevailed.

I had the blahs real bad.

Last summer during our family reunion my son did a dive in to a shallow pool and hit his head. He hit his head so hard that he scraped off an inch of hair at the bottom of the pool. I was asleep when this happened but when my husband told me I jumped out of bed and ran to my son. All I could think about was Joni Eareckson Tada who had a similar incident and was paralyzed for life. (I only knew about Joni, because an Aunt in Canada would send a gift subscription of a magazine called Young Ambassador to us in NY. This was Christian magazine for young adults It's where I learned about PKs (Preacher's Kids) and Christianity from another culture's point of view. I looked forward to that magazine and read it eagerly every month.) Anyhow, I asked him if he was OK and did he realize how fortunate he was. I prayed like I have never prayed that night. The next day I was depressed by all the what-ifs and pretty much spent the day in silence. I was also a tad embarrassed by what I considered a foolish decision.

We returned from the family reunion, he started a new job and all seemed fine.

In February, he wanted to have an MRI, because sometimes he would get headaches. The doctor knew of no discernible reason why he should get an MRI, but finally told him he would send him for an x-ray first. On the day of the x-ray the technician does the x-ray and calls the doctor's office in a state of shock - there's a fracture in his neck. In the mean time he comes home and says very calmly, "there's a fracture in my neck." After getting over the shock of this statement, I reiterate that he is blessed because I don't know too many people walking around with a fractured neck. I also did panic. Opening up to my Women's Bible Study really gave me a feeling of peace. I can honestly say I was no longer worried once I knew others were in prayer with me. At that point, we chose to praise God that he was not injured further.

Today he went for the follow up results of his MRI and he was given a clean bill of health; everything is fine and the fracture is no longer there.

I had the blahs.
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Once he told me this I started jumping up and down praising God. On the phone speaking with me he said, "Mummy, God is good." My heart rejoiced even more.

I had the blahs, but not anymore.

God is good; He chose to extend His grace and mercy in this situation for this outcome. I don't know why this situation would have a different outcome for another, but I'm grateful this was the outcome He had for us. I will praise Him, because there's nothing I could have done to make this happen. The more I serve God, the more I know He's worthy of my praise. I had the blahs, but his grace and mercy puts everything in to perspective.

And we know that God causes everything to work together[a] for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28 (NLT)

Are you a recipient of God's grace?

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Helping Others

I am the mother of four children and I am quite proud of all of them. I don't always feel proud and then someone may give me a gentle nudge reminding me of what they see in my children. Or I receive a note like the one below from my older daughter and it makes my heart swell with pride.

For my 22nd birthday I would like to raise $2,200 to 
help build a well in Africa for communities that are 
lacking clean water. This is basically my gift to 
others considering how blessed I am. I don't need muchelse but everyone needs clean water; without it how 
would we survive? So this is my gift to others. 
I hope you can donate or at least pass this message 
along to others in our family. I love you and I hope 
you remember how blessed you are to even be able to 
flush a toilet, shower, cool and drink water and much much more daily.  
With love, 
 
https://www.thewaterproject.org/community/profile/Jheanelle-miller

Since I have this small little space on the internet, I'm letting my readers know about this also. I hope you feel led to donate and help out someone less fortunate than us in this country.

Isn't this a great birthday gift?!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Book Review - I Wish I Had a Red Dress by Pearl Cleage


I fell in love with Pearl Cleage when I read "What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day." That book made me feel good and wanting to experience the emotions of new love again. I Wish I Had a Red Dress does the same combined, with old mature love, history and social activism.

The main character - Joyce was widowed and misses what she had with her husband; he was the only man and perfect man for her. To distract her from her grief, she runs the Sewing Circus - an all girl group she founded to provide needed services to young women at risk, many of whom are single mothers. Joyce has a mainstay in her best friend Sister and her husband.  Through this couple she meets Nate, who eventually becomes a permanent part of her life.

This book is about falling in love and starting over. It's about knowing that just because one door is closed it does not mean another one won't be opened. It's about never giving up and learning about yourself in the process. It's about how horrible things can happen to the most needy among us and the resilience of the human spirit. It's about friendships that energize and keep us sane. It's about forging ahead in your black dress, until you get your head right, and you're wanting to wear a red dress again.

If you're a bit worn down by life, this book will pick your spirits up, because that's what Pearl Cleage does best in her writing.

Monday, April 7, 2014

On Being Nice

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Being nice is such a rare quality that when we run in to it we are shocked. Yet as Christians we are called to be nice, to be light in a dark world, to help those who need help and to do it from a place of love. Part of being nice is to do a good deed and not expect anything in return.

Now I'm using nice because that's a word that everyone can relate to; nice seems better than good. Nice implies that you go the extra mile. Nice is just nice.

On a recent road trip we were genuinely surprised by the niceness of those we came in contact with. I don't know about you, but for us, whenever we take a road trip we hope and pray nothing goes wrong and do a general checkup on our cars to make sure everything is fine.  The trip was about 5-6 hours, so a general checkup seemed to be all that was necessary.  We started on our trip and everything was going fine until we had to conquer this huge hill on the I5 (elevation 2000 ft), and that was when our car gave out. She just died right there in the middle lane. We were able to navigate off the road and call AAA. It so happens this particular stretch of road claims a lot of cars, so when we pulled over we were right behind a sheriff assisting another car.

So far nothing nice and all the makings for a disastrous trip.

AAA eventually came after an hour. The car was towed and we all had to ride in the tow truck or the van. The driver of the tow truck was very pleasant. He told us how he drives up and down that hill all day and he's not afraid. We drove up the hill then down the hill and exited at the nearest town with a mechanic. By this time it's about 5:30 pm - the time when people are looking to end their day. The mechanics did not rush us - as a matter of fact they took the time to inspect, diagnose and provide solutions. The transmission was gone. So now we are officially without a car. The mechanics also made calls to car rentals and  found one that would rent a car to us.  The mechanics then drove us over to the car rental location.

For whatever reason, I was never flustered during this process (but my husband was).  We ran in to a little snafu while trying to rent the car, but ultimately we were able to rent the car. Four hours later, we were on our way.

As we were driving, I wondered why I was so genuinely surprised by the niceness of the mechanics and the tow truck driver. The answer struck me - it's because we're not used to people being nice to us for no reason at all. We always think there's an ulterior motive, or that we're being scammed. This world is tough, but this made me realize that I need to constantly work on being nice, just because. As Christians, we are encouraged to be nice - it's a way of reaching others and letting our light shine.

Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate?  
Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.
 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. Philippians 2:1-4 (NLT)

Are you genuinely nice? Do you expect something in return for being nice? Does being unappreciated stop you from being nice?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Gratitude

At the beginning of this year, I decided that I would make a conscious effort to be thankful and here's why.
Being thankful

  • Shifts  your mindset
  • Makes you positive
  • Makes you happy
  • Builds character
  • Improves health
  • Reduces anger

I can attest to all of the above but my attempt at keeping a journal literally did not go so well initially.
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 It felt like a chore and I found myself being grateful for the same things everyday - life, health, my family, a roof over my head. But the more I started to think of these things that I was taking granted, the more I realized I had a lot to be thankful for. Even if it seemed trivial, I was going to be thankful.  And by golly now that a quarter of the year is gone it has become incrementally easier to have an attitude of gratitude. I am thankful that the Little One is always happy; I am thankful that I was able to meet my deadline; I am thankful for the beauty of potential; I am grateful that I believe in someone bigger than myself. Sometimes, I'm actually thankful for a messy house.

One morning as I was reading the Bible, this verse jumped out at me and  it seemed to have new meaning:

I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart;
I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done.
 I will be filled with joy because of you.
I will sing praises to your name, O Most High.
Psalm 9:1,2 (NLT)

Even the scriptures were encouraging me to be grateful.  You don't have to write it down, but if that helps you then do so. But more importantly, strive to be grateful every second of every day - it will make a huge difference to you and those around you.

Regardless of your circumstance, I challenge and encourage you to possess an attitude of gratitude.

Do you have an attitude of gratitude?