Feeling Grateful by Sonya

 

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“Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” Psalm 106:1

Coming into Thanksgiving this month, I have such an overwhelming sense of gratitude.  Truly each day is a gift from God! We can overlook that when everything is going well, but when a trial or challenge comes up it causes you to focus on what is important and become thankful and know that God loves us.

Just last week my middle daughter got diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy which is facial nerve damage and half of her face drooped and had no emotion. It was pretty scary as it looked like my daughter had a stroke, but it was a virus that caused this. The doctor said she would outgrow it within a few months but to this 9 year old it seemed like eternity and she didn’t want to go to school looking like that for a long time. Also there was a small percentage where you would have permanent damage. During this time, it caused me to draw closer to God in thanksgiving.  We were praising God for what He was going to do and how He was going to walk us through this. My daughter has such a strong faith in God and she taught me so much during this time to not give up on what God can do!

It amazed me how each day God was healing her little by little and now a week later she is almost completely healed. Praise God! This was no surprise to my daughter, as she believed God would take care of her and knew her prayers would be answered. She carried a grateful attitude by thanking God with each small victory as she was watching her face come back to life. This encouraged me to not give up when we are faced with a trial and to keep thanking God for what He is walking us through and each season of life we are in. Feeling grateful to be able to wake up each day and understand the present is God’s gift to us and we are to make the most of it! Don’t let this Thanksgiving slide on by without acknowledging all perfect gifts come from Him. Thank God in all areas of your life and rejoice in what He is doing and not look to your circumstances.

 

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

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3-D Vision (Division)

 

 

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Election time is fast approaching and as I made my way to Early Voting you could sense the anticipation, the wonder, and even the anxiety of what is to come. I’ve thought a lot during this election season on who would I choose and what would make me come to my final conclusion?  I’ve seen simple statements of opinion turn to heated arguments, perspectives shared turn to disputes loaded with venom and friends turn on one another all on the platform of social media. All of this causes me to wonder, are we truly the UNITED States of America? Based on what I’m seeing it’s a picture of chaos, slander and even hatred.

Think about the last statement I just made… “Based on what I’m SEEING”, the vision in front of me is painting a picture that does not reflect who we should be, and that is united.

Perhaps what we’re seeing or setting our sights on is more of what I’d like to call “3-D Vision” (or DIVISION) and we have the ability to change it!

This article is not to talk about who the better candidate is. If I had my way, we would have a new set of people to choose from but that’s just me. The fact of the matter is we have two candidates to choose from and it is our civil duty as Americans to select the candidate who best reflects our personal values. My duty as a Christian is to carefully pray, vote based on my personal convictions and then trust God in all circumstances realizing He is the ultimate authority.

Let’s look at how the 3-D vision is affecting our culture and what we can do to change it!

  • Distraction

The mud-slinging, insults hurled and the countless images and advertisements are all distracting us and causing many of us to lose focus. We must realize that politics are never fair and with the best of our ability we must look at the bigger picture at hand. We cannot allow such distractions to cause us to not walk in love and remain faithful to our testimony as believers. We know in these end times, such behavior will be evident and shocking and disturbing news will unfold. Why are we surprised and distracted by what the Bible told us would happen? How can we be carriers of LIGHT if we’re distracted by the darkness around us?

  • Deception

We must seek the face of God and ask Him to protect our hearts from deception. Not everyone who makes a promise has intentions of keeping it. I’d encourage you to keep your eyes on Jesus and not a person. A man or woman will not save this country. The truth of the matter is we need Jesus in our land. Let’s not be deceived by flattery and smokescreens. Deception is so dangerous because it contains elements of truth but is motivated by what is false. Let’s not be deceived by the persuasive words of people but let’s come together as a community of believers and pray that the Spirit of the living God would visit our house, the church house and the White House. We need truth, we need justice and we need God!

  • Division

Whether Republican or Democrat, we’re all AMERICAN and we have the awesome privilege to choose as we see fit. Let’s not allow political parties and differences of opinions to separate and divide us as a nation. I may not agree with my neighbor but I can value the fact they have something to contribute and with respect I can agree to disagree and keep it moving.   It’s not my job to manage the thoughts and opinions of others, it is my job to pray, share my faith and be a light. I cannot share the love of Christ if I’m bashing the ones I’m called to love on.

I urge us all as ladies to pray for our nation, pray that repentance and revival would awaken us all and we would proudly remain the UNITED States of America. November 8th will come and go and someone will be elected into office. Let us honor the position held by the elected person and remain steadfast, unmovable, unshakeable and always abounding in the work of the Lord.

Let’s change what we see by becoming what we believe is possible!

 

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Attitude of Gratitude by Bombi

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I became a gratitude buddy and here’s what happened:

The other day my BFF of 20+ years asked me a question, “Want to be my gratitude buddy?” At first I was like, “A WHAT?” Once she explained it I was willing to give it a try. She told me that in the past she used to keep a gratitude journal. The idea is to write three things you’re grateful for in the morning then three at night. When you write them and read them back to yourself, it’s supposed to help encourage you to begin and end your day on a positive note. Over the years I’ve heard that keeping a gratitude journal can help lift your spirits. I was never on board because I’m not much of a journaling person. Since I love to write, you’d think I’d be all about it, but still, I’m not. So when she told me that I would just need to simply tell the three things to her each day, I was definitely willing to give it a try.

 

It’s been less than a week, but I wanted to share what’s happened. The first thing I’ve noticed is that it’s started my day on an immediate up. Think about it, every day you have your goods and your bads and your ups and your downs. Sometimes you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, or with a headache, or you just had a hard night before. Starting off my day listing the good stuff sets me towards a thankful mindset. Secondly, I’ve found it to be a way of praise to God. Really, the things I am thankful for are things I know God has provided and allowed. Sometimes my prayer life can be one where I’m doing more asking than giving. More prayer than praise. This practice has already begun to strengthen the worshiper in me. Thirdly, it’s proven to be a part of faith building fellowship in community. When we gather even with one other person to testify of what God is giving you and doing for you, you can’t help but build your faith. If you’d like to kick off your holidays and end your year on a positive note, I recommend grabbing a gratitude buddy today and giving it a try. Like me, you’ll be thankful you did.

 

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

 

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The Most Awful Time Of The Year by Kenika

 

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The stores have decorations out, people are already starting their countdowns and cannot wait until Halloween is over so that it is officially “okay” to start decorating, talking about and preparing for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  It seems like every year they start earlier and earlier.  Anticipation is rising and all of the pumpkin latte, snow flurry and sweater season loving people will be practically skipping through the streets with joy in the days to come.  One of the most popular songs as it relates to the Christmas holiday is, “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” (Andy Williams) but for many, this time of year is anything but.

How is it that this wonderful time filled with magic, joy, possibilities, charity and love for so many, provides heartache, loneliness, sorrow and pain for so many others?  I’ve read a few articles on this and the reasons range from cold and dark weather, to intensified mental illness, to sadness over not having enough money to buy gifts for the supremely commercialized Christmas holiday.  According to Healthline.com the reasons for holiday depression include:

  • Social Isolation: “Some people may have a small social circle or a lack of opportunities for socialization.”
  • Grieving During the Holidays: “Some people may be keenly aware of the loss of a loved one during the holiday season.”
  • Major Depressive Disorder with Seasonal Pattern: “Is a type of recurring depression that is caused by the seasons changing. Many people with this disorder develop depressions symptoms during the fall, and continue to feel sad throughout the winter.”

 

Wherever you may find yourself, these feelings are not in your imagination, they are very real.  I know that grieving the loss of a loved one through this holiday season will be very difficult for a lot of people I know.  Also being single and feeling alone, wishing you had your own little family to celebrate with, can lead to depression as well.  In the past that was a huge factor for holiday blues for me along with drawing near to the end of another year and feeling as if I hadn’t accomplished all I wanted to.  You may not be someone who suffers in any of these ways, but do your best this year to be mindful of those that do.

My intentions are certainly not to be a “Debbie-downer” but rather to shine a light on those that may be dreading and suffering through this time of the year instead of greeting it with warm excitement.  There is definitely hope! First of all, in the eternal love of Jesus Christ, and second of all, there are practical things you can do if you find yourself struggling this holiday season.

From Psychologytoday.com:

  • “If the depression is serious, seek out the help of a qualified mental health professional.”
  • “Set personal boundaries regarding the money spent on gifts and the number of social events.”
  • “Don’t accept any “perfect” representation of Christmas that the media, institutions or other people try to make you believe.”
  • “Become involved in giving in a non-monetary way through charities and worthwhile causes that help less fortunate people.”
  • “Avoid excessive rumination about your life.”
  • “Be grateful for what you have in your life, rather than focusing on what you don’t have.”

 

I would like to add my two cents and say if you are feeling this way, don’t hold it in, talk to someone you know and trust! There are people in your life who care about you and would not want you to suffer alone in this way.  You’ve already made it through the tragedy, the bad times, the disappointments, which is concrete proof that you can make it through this time of the year as well!

 

References

Kerr, Michael. Holiday Depression. Healthline.com, 2005. Web. 26 Oct. 2016.

Williams, Ray. Why People Get Depressed at Christmas. PsychologyToday.com, 2010. Web. 26 Oct. 2016.

 

 

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