A Heart of Gratitude by Trish

Perhaps it is just how I view life as I mature with age, but I’m amazed at the overwhelming amount of selfishness and lack of gratitude in our society.  That is not to say that all of society is ungrateful but it is evident nonetheless.

A culture of entitlement, pride and self- deserved behavior has replaced humility, gratitude and benefits due to hard work and consistency. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a home where we were rewarded for hard work and good behavior. Nothing was given just because. Or maybe it was because there were many Christmas holidays when nothing was under the tree other than my little brother looking up admiring the lights. There was no expectation or demand for a Christmas wish list to be fulfilled. We focused on what mattered most and poured our attention and energy in our relationships not things.

Today, I’m appalled when I see and hear children making demands of their parents and further astonished when this same behavior is demonstrated among grown adults.

We’ve fostered a culture where everyone is a winner and everyone deserves a trophy. So now when a reward is given, it is received with an attitude of what is owedto them and not a spirit of gratitude or even accomplishment for a job well done.

I truly believe the more we soften or hearts and become less self-absorbed the more opportunities are automatically open to us to receive the very best in life.

When we set our affections on Jesus and are grateful for what He has done for us it causes our hearts to be filled with sincerity and gratitude.  I believe gratitude attracts the greater things in life. When we are found faithful over the small things we are given, we are provided the opportunity to receive and be a steward of even greater things.

The next time we are tempted to be selfish and demanding of what we think we should have, let us be mindful of those who would give anything for a clean cup of water, a warm shower, nice bed and a hot meal. I don’t say this to diminish having our desires met or wanting nice things. It’s all about priorities and maintaining a pure heart and most importantly saying “thank you” to the One who gives to us to freely. It all belongs to Him and the least we can do is share with others and have a heart of gratitude.

Photo Credit: By Sutlafk / Freepik

 

This Is 40 by Bombi

Recently I celebrated a life milestone, I turned 40. From the moment I turned 39 I began to spend most every day in reflection of my life. I was taking inventory of my life and thinking on all of the lessons I’ve learned along the way. When I was younger, there were so many things I thought I knew about people, faith, or just life in general. I came to find that I knew so little, I’m still learning. What struck me was how sure I was about everything when I first became an adult. I was sure that I would be safe at all times in all situations. I was sure of who my friends were and would always be. I was sure that my family would all stay the same people. I was sure about so much. Little did I know how unsure life would be. How many funerals I’d attend, how many friends I’d never see again. There were years that I was sure I would never really laugh or smile again. Times in life that I thought that I would never find true love. So many ups and downs, so, so many of them.

I guess I’m at the so called “mid-point” or “middle” in life. If there’s anything I can say for sure it’s this, nearly everything and everyone changes. Jobs will come and go. Your pant size will fluctuate. Fashion, music, and celebrities will change throughout the times. Gas prices will fluctuate and more than likely go up. Presidents and political agendas will come and go. Homes and the place you call home will more than likely change.  Children will grow up and change, parents will too. Your life perspectives will change. The ones you considered friends and circles of friends will come and go as well. Everything and everyone will more than likely change in one way shape or form. Everyone except for one, Jesus. The Bible says in Deuteronomy 31:6 that, “he will never leave you nor forsake you.” There are so many promises that we have in Jesus and what’s awesome is that they will and do come to pass. I am so blessed to have Him in my life, I couldn’t imagine a moment without Him. He’ll never betray me, gossip about me, trick me, leave me, He’ll never do any of that. He’ll never stop being my friend. All He does and will keep on doing is being who He is. I praise Him forever for that. I pray that I can live out the second half of my life through Him in a greater way than I have up to this point. Maybe one day, when I’m fully grown, I can be more like Him.

“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8 (KJV)

Photo Credit: FreePik

First Things First by Trish

It’s that time of year where most people are in the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season. The focus has shifted to doing whatever necessary to making the season so perfect. Many are evaluating what was accomplished (or not accomplished) during the past year while simultaneously making new goals for the new year.

It’s so important for us to discern which season of life we’re in and not be disappointed if it’s not the season you’d like it to be. Different seasons demand different or specific seeds to be sown and each brings about its own harvest. If we’re not careful we’ll begrudgingly “endure” the season, instead of thriving in whatever state we’re in.

In whatever season or state, we must keep our priorities in check. Is our relationship with God thriving? Is our home life peaceful and growing in love? Are we being good stewards of the finances God has trusted us with? Just those three things alone can cause a train wreck if we’re not prioritizing correctly. I myself will lift both hands in the air for not managing any one of those three things well on multiple occasions.  Yet we still have the responsibility to come back to our core values and honor what we know to be priority.

Maybe it means setting a boundary in gift giving so that you’re not in debt financially. Perhaps it looks like going to bed earlier so you have time for yourself in the morning before the kids wake up, or even saying “no” to the church potluck so you’re not overwhelmed in the kitchen to present the perfect dish, when you could be spending time with your family.

I’m learning that when I keep first things first, I feel more at peace.  Then when life throws a curveball I can recover faster and push through if there is strength in the areas I’ve nurtured all along, be it with my walk with God or family.

My priorities may not look like yours and that’s okay. Determine what’s important to you and don’t get distracted by anything not helping you grow, learn, advance and become who you were meant to be all along. Remember, first things first, everything else can wait.

Happy Hour by Bombi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ever since I’ve entered back into the work force as a mom I quickly adopted a favorite time of day. It truly is the happiest part of my day. A time to let my hair down, let my guard down, and just let loose. My co-workers agree that this is their favorite hour as well. As a matter of fact, throughout the years I’ve been invited to enjoy happy hour with them. However, I have an ongoing decline to their invite.

You see, my happy hour isn’t the same as theirs. I have a happy hour all my own. Mine doesn’t include chips, salsa, and a martini at the nearby bar. No my friends, my happy hour is the hour I get to go home. It’s the first moments I get to see the faces of my kids and the man I love. Happy hour includes, “How was your day?” and, “Did you find out what grade you got on your test?” and also, “What did you guys want to eat for dinner?” I don’t know if you’ve found it commonplace to meet folks with families who are constantly trying to escape them, but I seem to find them all around me. They might not notice that in passing they air their frustrations about their “baby of a husband” or “annoying kids they can’t wait to send off.” If this is news to you, I apologize, but sadly it’s no exaggeration. These statements are ones I’ve actually heard, and more than once.  While no one’s earthly life is perfect, I can tell you that mine is blessed and an answer to prayer.

I can remember like it was yesterday, trying to be a good mom to my daughter, as a single mom at times it was hard and exhausting, and at times lonely, but I always loved being a mom, and I always desired in my heart to have a chance to parent alongside someone who loved and respected us both. I also desired to have a son, but I wasn’t about to go have a baby out of wedlock to fulfill this secret want. But in the midst of life God heard my heart and within time, I got a chance to know life as I experience it now. It’s one where I don’t have to escape my life and family by being at some neighborhood bar. It’s a life that I don’t dread or want to run away from. It’s one where my husband shares the same sentiment, so rather than run from his place as a leader in our home, he runs to home. It’s a life where I not only have a precious daughter, but also the son I longed for.

Life now isn’t all roses and sunshine at every moment. But it’s still a dream come true, and as I said earlier, it’s an answer to prayer. It’s one I could only daydream about at one point, but now experience it all the time. It’s a life that I know in just a few short years or so, my husband and I will transition into an “empty-nest” so to speak, but one where I don’t have to sit alone as I watch my daughter go off and live life as an adult. It’s a life where we can experience together sending both of our kids into the world to be the best they can be. It’s a life of lots of laughter, and sometimes tears, and prayers, and meals, and talks, and stay at home movies, and homework, and basketball practice, and choir concerts, and all and everything in between. It’s a life of happy hour every day. It’s a blessed life, and I thank God I get to be a mother to my Avery and Noel.  I also thank God I get to do it not by myself, but with my precious, passionate, servant-leader of a husband.

So for any parent reading this, or if you one day hope to be, I challenge you to change the worlds definition of “Happy Hour.”  I encourage you to realize that your life doesn’t have to be one where you’re daily yearning to escape your family to find a breather, but one where you’re experiencing and cherishing the blessing that God always intended it to be. Because in case you forgot, “those kids” aren’t a burden, they are your true reward.

Psalm 127:3-5(NKJV)

3 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,

The fruit of the womb is a reward.

4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,

So are the children of one’s youth.

5 Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;

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