Sunday, November 22, 2015

Grace and Gratitude

God’s unmerited favor or kindness, we don’t deserve. There is nothing we have done, nor can ever do to earn this favor. It is a gift freely given from God. 
That favor gives us access. It gives us the legal right to access the power of God for everything we need. None of us deserves access to God and His power (Rom. 3:10, 23). Because of sin, we all deserve an everlasting hell. Yet God has given us access to all He is and all He has.Everything Comes Through GraceWe are saved by grace. Without the grace—the favor—of God, we could never have access to the mercy of God.Gratitude:Gratitude is more than saying, "Thank you," when someone gives you something. Gratitude is more than an action which we decide to do by an act of will power.What it takes to turn the words, "thank you," into gratitude is the real genuine feeling of gratitude. Gratitude is a feeling that arises uncoerced in the heart. It cannot be willed into existence directly if it is not there. Gratitude is a form of delight.. And it is a good. It is part of happiness, not misery. Gratitude directed toward a person for giving you something good. It is a happiness that comes not merely from the gift, but from the act of giving. What in the world, in a world of certain loss, is grace? How do you know how to sift through a day, a life, and rightly read the graces, rightly ascertain the curses? What is good? What counts as grace? What is the heart of God?We have the opportunity to turn to God, the only begetter of grace, and there find all the fullness of joy.(source)
This Was Grace
 This is what we call the ugly-beautiful… d’un beau affreux. What the impressionist painter, Paul Gauguin, encapsulated as, “Le laid peut-etre beau…” Translation: The ugly can be beautiful…..(Get Closer to the Ugly)

The Link Between Grace and Gratitude
Gratitude flourishes in the sphere of grace.  
Since the feeling of gratitude usually rises in our hearts when someone does us an undeserved or uncalled-for favor, the expression of thanks will at any time communicate humility 
Therefore, gratitude wells up in the hearts of those who "receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness" (Romans 5:17). When the grace of Jesus penetrates the human heart, it rebounds back to God as gratitude. Christian gratitude is grace reflected back to God in the happiness we feel toward Jesus.A life that gives glory to God for his grace and a life of deepest gladness are always the same life. And what makes them one is gratitude.Source
#1767 - God's grace, which by all are justified freely through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:24).
#1772 - The anticipation of seeing our son over Thanksgiving weekend.
#1773 - Programs/websites online that tell the truth about current events, instead of the lies of media/government officials. "Living Waters", "InfoWars"
#1774 - Peace of mind through the Lord in a world of chaos and evil.
#1775 - For faith, hope, and love. Because those things are free, irreplaceable, and the only things that last a lifetime
#1776 - Running into and old friend/former teacher of my son.
#1777 - First snowfall of the year.
#1778 - The beauty of snow, stuck to the branches of trees and and morning fog on the lake.

#1775 - Safety on the road, driving on icy roads.

May you have a blessed Thanksgiving, full of God's grace and that you will find many things to be grateful to the Lord for this season.
Care to count the good, the bad, and the ugly-beautiful as all grace? Consider joining the Gratitude Community! Just jump in with your own counting!
How to begin your own 1000 Gift List ::: How Gratitude Can Change your Life

You may find me linking up at any of the blog parties listed on the left sidebar.(or go to my blog party page link, below)

Favorite Blogs Parties I Link-up with

A Wise Woman Builds Her Home

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Thankful in Difficult Times

I've posted on the subject of "ugly-beautiful" gifts...or being thankful in difficult times, many times here on my blog over the years.

The truth is, I seem to always be struggling with this kind of gratitude. I know in my heart that the Lord never wastes any experiences I go through, whether easy or difficult. But my mind keeps arguing with that understanding and I often end up pleading with God, "Lord, how is this going to turn out for the good?" I start to lose patience and my faith, that is being tested, fails. 

I'm so thankful, that God understands my weaknesses and when I falter, He only loves and forgives.  Whenever I feel vulnerable or angry, time and time again, He comes to me in the Bible and bring me back to gospel-sanity. How I praise Him for the counsel and consolation of His Word; the grace and power of the Scriptures; the truth and authority of the Bible.

Paul writes in Colossians 1:11, “May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy.” So even when we face the storms in our lives, God will always strengthen us and give us the endurance and patience with joy that we need. What a blessing that is!

It does seem like we grow the most in our walk with Him when times are difficult, though. When times are good, we rarely grow; isn’t that sad but true? When the marriage is good, the family is good, work is going smoothly, the car is not breaking down, and we still don’t have to paint that side of the house yet, when things are going good, how many of us grow in our faith and trust in Jesus Christ? Not many. Yet, when times of stress and hurt and difficult challenges come is when we tend to grow more and become more like Jesus Christ; that’s His purpose in our lives, that we look like Him. 

In the midst of these difficult circumstances, God wants us to be not only confident but He wants our faith to be refined—to be pure. In I Peter 1:6-7, Peter describes all the wonderful things that happen to a Christian: 

“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

That is part of what is going on when difficult times come into our lives; we are being purified, refined, and tested so that we can know for sure and praise God in how we respond; we know that our faith is genuine and real.

Continuing to list the many gifts, including the "ugly-beautiful" gifts the Lord provides:
#1767 - ugly: out of control arguments... beautiful: turning to the Lord(then the other person) to seek forgiveness. Then reading His promises in the Bible that there will be reward for my faithfulness.
#1768 - ugly: stepping out of my comfort zone and getting involved in a ladies Bible study group at church.  beautiful: meeting with all the wonderful sisters in Christ, who uplift my heart and soul and freely give encouragement.
#1769 - ugly: rainy, dreary weather... beautiful: More time to spend communing with the Lord and in the Word.
#1770 - ugly: listening to mom talk about how she feels so trapped/between a rock and a hard place. beautiful: An opportunity to bring comfort to her and let her know I love her, no matter what she does/doesn't do.  
#1771 - ugly: giving my boss at work a final date. beautiful: knowing that soon I will be able to see mom just about every day.
Sometimes it seems like the beautiful comes first:
#1772 - beautiful: making the connection with my sister-friend in the Lord, who is seeking the same thing my mom was seeking. ugly: finding that my siblings refuse to discuss and check out the possibility...causing friction at every turn.(but offering no other possible options)

"'give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

… without ceasing, O Lord my God, I will give You thanks for ever….~Ps. 30:13

Care to count the good, the bad, and the ugly-beautiful as all grace? Consider joining the Gratitude Community! Just jump in with your own counting!

How to begin your own 1000 Gift List ::: How Gratitude Can Change your Life

You may find me linking up at any of the blog parties listed on the left sidebar.(or go to my blog party page link, below)

Favorite Blogs Parties I Link-up with

A Wise Woman Builds Her Home

Sunday, November 8, 2015

4 Years of Blogging...Sharing My First Couple of Posts

I can hardly believe it, but it's officially been 4 years that I have been blogging. I've written over 300 posts here on "CITC". Lots of stories and many memories are in these posts. They revealed my struggles, my joys, and how God has always gotten me through both.  Below are the first two posts I wrote.

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My First Post 11/8/2011

There are several reasons I decided to start a blog. First and foremost I like writing, especially about how God is working in my life. I also love to read. I've been reading and following other bloggers for a while and decided it would be fun to be a part of that community.  I have read how others have been encouraged and built friendships from all over the world through blogging. I also know that I have more recently had more time on my hands and God has been working in my heart to do this. I held off doing it, more out of not knowing how to get it started or what I would even write about, than anything else. I also know that I’m not a professional writer and would hate to bore anyone who would read what I wrote. Even if I get very few(if any) followers, I hope that someone may find my blogs helpful in their lives, as so many have done for me in sharing theirs.  Maybe, I’ll even learn a little about how to become a better writer.  No matter what, I want to give God the glory and grow in Him, and have fun doing it!!!! I’ll do my very best to keep this blog updated, at least every week. There’s nothing more frustrating than for me to follow someone’s blog and all of a sudden they stop blogging for several months!!! So, here I go…

My Second Post 11/9/2011
When You Get the Dreaded Phone Call
Well, here I am writing my second blog post and already, it seems that God is testing the deepest part of my faith! What a night I’ve had! Went from finishing up an evening at our church Bible study to rushing off to the hospital emergency room! It was eerily familiar to me, that dreaded phone call, a stranger’s voice on the other end of my son’s cell phone. It’s a girl on the line. He’s been hit in the head, knocked unconscious, but now he’s awake and confused. It’s a 30 minute drive to the hospital.  A train whistle jolts me from a moment of shock. Bad timing! Why now, Lord? We can’t wait for a train! We have to get there! I take a deep breath…we had just finished talking about how God initiates events in our lives…He’s in control…that we must trust Him! I pray, “Lord be with our son!”, under my breath. The drive is so LONG! I text friends to pray on the way there. Finally, we make it… is congested and confusing, people everywhere! It’s a busy night in the ER. Make it into his room, he’s confused, asking questions. We wait for the doctor to come in….finally! He orders a cat scan. Another 30 minutes, come back and wait yet another 30 minutes for the results….Looks good (thank You, Jesus!) It’s a minor concussion. Dr prescribes meds for pain and nausea, says go home and rest and that memory will return slowly in the next 2-3 days. The drive home isn’t much easier. He can’t remember and keeps asking questions from one minute to the next….my heart aches for him in his frustration to remember. He starts to panic…..I remind him to stay calm. Can we make it home before he loses it? We do, but even then he can’t relax at home…..questions and more questions (yikes! Will he be like this the next 2-3 days?) Please, Lord, bring back his memory! …..let’s please go to bed…’s 1:30 in the morning!!! There’s still tension, but he lays down his head on the pillow. He’s soon asleep. I start to feel the release of my emotions from the stressful evening and shed some tears! Oh, the things we endure as parents! We love, yet at such a cost!!! I remember that we also discussed in church how God yearns for a close relationship with each of us and pursues us relentlessly and He is heartbroken when we walk away from Him. He doesn’t want to lose even one of us and would do anything for us, even die for us!!! It’s the same with a parent’s love for a child! I could not imagine losing my son! Even the thought makes me weak!!! I pray tomorrow will be better, that God will heal him and strengthen him! And all I can do is trust in God hold him and take care of him!
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I also realized that one thing I have missed doing is writing my blessings,(the gifts that He has provided to me) here. Over the years I've listed 1,757 gifts, so far. Click on the words below to read my listing of the first 100.

I've decided I want to continue to list these gifts, whether it will be on a weekly basis or even a monthly basis. Life can be quite hectic, but I never want to forget where all my blessings come from and how the Lord continue to provide. Here are some I've thought about lately(with some pictures from a recent day outing with my mom to an outdoor public garden out in the country.) 
#1758 - Going to see my aunt and uncle at one of his woodcarving shows.(He is an amazing wood-carver.) I will share some of his work in a future post.
#1759 - Getting back into my personal journaling. along with writing down my blessings again.
#1760 - So thankful for sunshine, even though the fall days are cooling things down!!

#1761 - In the midst of some difficult and painful recent events, still knowing that the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations!!(Psalm 100:5)
#1762 - Being able to see my wonderful friend, after she had been away a few weeks traveling. 

#1763 - Having a few days where I don't have to go into work each week, now that my hours are reduced. More time to get things done at home and spend more time with my mom.
#1764 - Seeing how my mom enjoys going to my Wednedsay morning ladies Bible study group with me lately.
#1765 - Getting to hear the excitement in my son's voice, when he unexpectedly called to tell me he got a great new job.
#1766 - Attending another Chris Tomlin concert.(that makes 6 that I've been to)