A Thankful Heart – Again, Yes, Again

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Turkeys in our front yard

Turkeys in our front yard

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. There are several reasons for this. I love the food that is traditional on Thanksgiving. I love getting together with family and friends and sharing food and fellowship. I also appreciate that Thanksgiving is about being something as opposed to giving and receiving.

Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful, and I am amazed and humbled when I think about all I have to be thankful for. Yet this year I can’t help but think of all those suffering around the world because of recent terrorist attacks.

How can we be thankful when so many are suffering?

Suffering is a part of our existance as human beings on this planet.

I believe God is present in suffering just as He is in times of blessing. We often associate thankfulness with circumstances, yet the Bible teaches that God is faithful in all things. Looking back on my life I have seen God’s faithfulness in the midst of times of suffering as well as when He blesses me.

It is not enough to be thankful, we must express our thankfulness to God. He alone is worthy of our gratitude for all that He has done, is doing, and will do to accomplish His will in our families and the world.

I recently read the book Defiant Joy, the Remarkable Life and Impact of G.K.Chesterton by Kevin Belmonte. The book recounts that during a period of utter despair, Chesterton “was filled with both an enormous sense of thankfulness, and an enormous need for someone or something to thank.” (p. 218) This insight caused Chesterton to embrace Christianity. He went on to become a critic and writer that greatly influenced the lives of C.S.Lewis among countless others. “The test of all happiness” he wrote, “is gratitude; and I felt grateful.” (p. 221) The defining quality of his life as described by his contemporaries was JOY. Thankfulness leads to joy.

Last week I saw the following in a store window – “It is not happy people who are thankful, it is thankful people who are happy”. How true!

Psalm 145: 3-5

3 Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom. 4 One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts. 5 They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty— and I will meditate on your wonderful works.

Here the Psalmist is saying that one generation must let the next know just how mighty, glorious, and splendid God is! As parents and grandparents this is a challenge and a great opportunity. As we share with our children just how faithful God has been and how much He has done for us as His children, it will remind us of His work in our lives and at the same time, bless our Heavenly Father as we give Him the glory.

As we are thankful this Thanksgiving, let us remember to pray for those thoughout the world who are suffering in loss and fear.

Pray they will experience God’s faithfulness and love in the midst of all they face.

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Gathering Together

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“Make sure you invite Mrs. Woody, too.”

My friend Alice Marie called me to tell me about a gathering of woman which was going to take place the next evening. Her granddaughter, Lauren, had invited her and Lauren asked that she extend the invitation to me.

Well, when a former student made the effort to invite her old, retired teacher to something, I certainly wanted to go. Alice Marie and I made plans to meet and attend together.

What a blessing!

In a coffee shop next to the campus of Western Carolina University, close to 100 women of various ages gathered to fellowship, worship, hear testimonies, and just enjoy being together. There was nice food as well.

Several things blessed me about this gathering.

  • the variety of the ages of the women who came – too often we are segregated by age, which for certain activities is great. Yet, it was so refreshing to see women of various ages coming together to just enjoy each other AND the Lord’s presence.
  • the variety of the groups represented – there were many different campus groups, fellowships, churches, Bible studies, etc. represented. All came together to share the love of Jesus – something all have in common.
  • the atmosphere of love and grace present – there was no “hidden agenda”. There was no charge, no recruitment for membership, no pressure. The time of worship and sharing were just that – worship and sharing.
  • gifts were freely given – most everyone enjoys a present and the door prizes were lovely paintings reflecting the theme of the event – Jesus’ love.

I felt an overwhelming sense of love that evening. It was such a blessing seeing high school students who had invited their mothers and GRANDMOTHERS to share in this time together. College students invited their friends and neighbors and various community groups such as CrossFit invited ladies as well.

It was truly a gathering.

In John chapter 17 Jesus prays for us, His followers, all those who will ever believe in Jesus.

20 “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. 21 I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.

22 “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. 23 I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.

The world around us is going to believe that Jesus is God’s son, sent to redeem the world WHEN WE, HIS CHILDREN BECOME ONE –  UNIFIED IN HIS LOVE.

This gathering of women was a beautiful expression of the unity we share as God’s children. I pray that we all have opportunities to gather together and celebrate God’s love while at the same time sharing it with others.

Jesus prayed that we would be one as He and the Father are one. That should be our prayer as well.

If you live near enough, please come join the Gathering tonight, Monday, November 16th 7:00 pm at the Point Coffee Shop in Cullowhee. Prepare to be blessed!

I Don’t Know….

Caleb

I don’t know all the answers.

I know that doesn’t surprise those of you that know me. I am a life long learner and I love to ask questions.

(much to the annoyance of my husband, our son, and I am sure, my three sons-in-law)

They don’t like it when I ask questions during ball games. How else am I going to learn the intricacies of the game? I just want to know why the football coach threw down his clipboard or why the baseball umpire ejected the coach. Ok, so I am more interested in the personal interactions of the coaches, players, and officials than the game itself, but I am watching.

We all learn by asking questions. Children go though stages when they ask many more questions than at other times. We get weary of answering, but that is how we as humans learn.

We are much more likely to remember information that we inquired about than if we are just fed facts. Our brains are “wired” to process immense amounts of information, yet MEMORY is tied to connecting information according to usefulness. Our brains are amazing at sorting.

That is why it is SO IMPORTANT to answer our children’s questions. If they ask a question – they want an answer. If we don’t answer their questions, they will begin to find others who will. Those may not be the people who will give our children good or correct answers. Peers are a ready source of information – some positive, some questionable, and some down right negative.

Be the adult who answers questions.

But what about when we don’t know?

Some possible responses are:

  • Be honest. I am highly suspect of anyone who knows it all – even if they do listen to NPR.
  • “I don’t know, but I will help you find out.” This allows our children to see where we look for answers ourselves.
  • “Let’s call and ask…..” Let your child see that there are others you recognize as an expert in a certain area.
  • “I don’t know for sure, and people I respect think differently about this.” (questions about heaven, Jesus’ return, etc.)
  • Google it. (be careful – do this together with your child)

God knows that we don’t know it all. If fact, James gives us advice about what to do in James 1:5-6

5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. 6 But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.

We are encouraged to ask God, and ask with faith that He will answer. Yet, sometimes we know that God waits to respond or chooses to keep silent in certain areas for our good. We do this as parents or grandparents, don’t we. We don’t tell our small children that we are taking them to Tweetsie next week because they will find it difficult to wait, or to do what they need to do today.

God also tells us that we don’t know everything, nor will we until we meet God face to face.

1 Corinthians 13:11 (NLT)

11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

What a wonderful promise!!! God is so awesome and His plans for us are beyond our human comprehension.

One day we will know it all – with perfect clarity. We can share that with our children and grandchildren.

I will never forget  – because it was one of those moments seared in my memory – Elizabeth Elliot speaking to 10,000 college students at Urbana in 1973 sharing the following –

I don’t know … but I know the One who does.”