Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Cultivating Gratitude in the Midst of Suffering

Hello all my lovely friends in the Lord!
I pray you have had a blessed week. Mine has been busy and also full of unexpected news. Last week I met with a new primary physician, due to some physical issues I have continued to deal with. She was very thorough and did several blood tests, most of which came back negative. But one of the test results surprisingly(and yet, not surprisingly) came back positive. It was a test for antibodies that are found with a disease called "Lupus". I had heard of Lupus, but was not aware of what it was. Upon some studying, I found that this can potentially be a very serious disease.  The reason I was not surprised by the test results was that all of my symptoms have been identical to the symptoms experienced with Lupus. I have an appointment in a few weeks to see a specialist, who will confirm whether I do have Lupus or not. With my symptoms, I would be surprised, though, if I don't have it. There is no cure, but thankfully symptoms can be treated with medications. I am praying for relief of my symptoms and for healing. I also am awaiting and preparing for my scheduled hysterectomy surgery at the end of September. This definitely will be a busy month! Please continue to hold me up in prayer!
As I wait for my medical issues to be addressed, I continue to care for my mother, who has dementia. I spend lots of time just being with her, which allows me to catch up on my reading. I have already started reading the book, Hope Prevails: Insights from a Doctor's Personal Journey through Depression by Michelle Bengtson. I hope to share a review of this book very soon.

Until then, I wanted to continue to share from my gratitude list. This list continues to grow and has helped me stay focused on the blessings God has provided each day of my life, in spite of much hardship and pain.
 This list and the photos I share remind me of the joy and goodness that springs up from God Himself, of which I so often miss in the day to day business and struggles of life. May you enjoy and be blessed by what I share. 
"Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings." 
William Arthur Ward

#1861 - Finding beauty in the small, and seemingly insignificant.
#1862 - Being able to take regular walks through our neighborhood and being able to feel safe for the most part.
#1863 - A tree loaded down with pinecones...upone reading about the pinecone, I learned that there are many evil symbols related to it (read about it here). But, as I looked upon this pine tree with its profusion of pinecones, it reminded me of the multiple blessings in the Lord and how creative He is to come up with such a unique plant. I also learned these things about pinecones:
  • Pine cones are the reproductive parts of pine trees
  • There are both male and female pine cones.
  • Male pine cones are soft and small.
  • Female cones are the ones we generally associate with pine cones.
  • Maine’s state flower is the White Pine Cone & Tassel.
  • Many species of birds and squirrels feed on pine cones, including crossbills, woodpeckers and the gray and red varieties of squirrels.
  • Humans also eat parts of the pine cones: Pine Nuts! People usually toast pine nuts to improve flavor and texture.There are around 20 types of pine nuts that are edible by people.
#1864 - A lovely pathway through some trees that my hubby and I take on our walks. Unfortunately, this path will be closed off in the near future, as someone recently purchased the land next to it and built on it. 
#1865 - My hubby's expression whenever we walk by this neighboring house. I think he dreams about one day catching a fish this big...no it's not real, but still...LOL!!!
 A close-up of the fake fish hanging above this house porch.
#1866 - Watching my hubby, who recently obtained a metal detector as a gift, searching for something of great value in the lake. Due to having our pontoon boat out for some repairs, this has been his recent hobby.

#1867 - Even when I come across something scary, the amazing beauty of God's creation amazes me. This GIANT hornet(holding onto a dead cicada) landed on the back of my chair, while I was sitting out on my patio. The size and sound of his buzzing frightened me. 
 Because of his size and threatening appearance, he was definitely not what I wanted to see!! I immediately found a different place to sit, after getting this snapshot, of course!
#1868 - I was also reminded, though, that even in these situations, we need not be afraid, for God is with us. His love truly does cast out all fear!!


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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Biblical Happiness

As I mentioned in my last post, I am continuing my review of the book, "Happiness" by Randy Alcorn, I will be sharing different parts of the book, as well as Scripture, and my own thoughts about true happiness.

Here are a few questions for you to think about...How would you define "Biblical" happiness? How is it different than our cultural understanding of happiness?

In his book, Randy Alcorn gives several definitions that come from the original Greek and Hebrew translations of the Bible, as well as how they compare to other translations. The Hebrew word that most closely describes God-centered happiness is the word Asher. 
"Asher means "happy one". The happiness that comes from knowing and serving God typifies asher."
"Happy is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God".(Psalm 146:5 RSV) 
The Greek word for happiness would be Makarios. which appears 50 times(in the Greek translation) in the New Testament. It is defined as "a state of happiness" and is often used to translate 'asher' from the Old to New Testament texts. In modern translations, the word "blessed" is often exchanged for happy. Christ used this definition in several verses when we go through difficult times to describe our anticipation of never-ending happiness in heaven ...
"Blessed(happy) are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:10
"When Makarios is translated "blessed," the astounding paradox that Jesus expresses - that those who know Him can experience happiness, even as they face life's most difficult  moments - is hard to see."
Yes, this description of happiness is truly a mystery. Our human minds cannot fathom rejoicing when going through trials.(And it's one type of joy that I am still learning to have.) But, He makes it available to us and calls us to be rejoice in ALL circumstances.


Alcorn continues to show how God's blessing of happiness overflows throughout the pages of the New Testament.
Some other original Hebrew and Greek words he describes in detail are:

  • Samach - "rejoicing, glad, delight...a feeling or attitude of joy, happiness or contentment...making an outward expression of that joy."
"Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for behold, I come and I will dwell in your midst." Zechariah 2:10
  • Chara - "A state of joy and gladness - joy, gladness, great happiness."
"Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses and he said, “Is there not Aaron, your brother, the Levite? I know that he can speak well. Behold, he is coming out to meet you, and when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart." Exodus 4:14
  • Chairo - "To enjoy a state of inner happiness and well-being... to rejoice, to be glad."
"And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth," Luke 1:14
  • Charis - God's unmerited favor demonstrated in Christ(grace).
"Grace is more than happiness. There is no greater reason for happiness than God's grace." Randy Alcorn 

Personally, when I think of the world's happiness, compared to Biblical happiness, there is really no comparison. It is like describing night and day. One is temporary, circumstantial, and elusive. Sometimes, in the church, we as Christians aren't allowed to show "too much" happiness. But true Biblical happiness is eternal, above and beyond our circumstances, and always and immediately available to us through the Holy Spirit!! All we need to do is ask for it and turn to God's Word. And when we find it, we can't hold it in!! We must reveal it to all around us. 

Below is a short movie segment (which I loved) and description by Alcorn of Cultural vs Biblical happiness. 

"To be joyful is to expect that life will reveal itself as God's gift of grace...To be joyful means to look out for opportunities for gratitude." Karl Barth

As I dwell on how life has revealed God's gift of grace to me, I can't help but shout it out, and continue to share His gifts below!! 

#1853 - Having some phone time with my son on his birthday. Encouraging him in his hunt for a new home to rent.

#1854 - Getting some much needed rain after a long dry spell, here where we live.
 
#1855 - A good report after having my annual mammogram.(Not fun, but so glad to know that all is well.)
#1856 - Lunch with an old friend on Wednesday ...time to catch up on our lives.
#1857 - A nice Friday evening on the lake and catching a record number of fish again!!
#1858 - Knowing I have two little shadows that follow me everywhere and that are always happy to see me!
#1859 - Getting some alone time...to read, pray, rest, and think.
#1860 - A peaceful Sunday afternoon walk with my hubby.


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Friday, August 12, 2016

Two Book Reviews, My Health, and Gratitude

Hello again, friends in Christ! I pray you have had a blessed week.
I have quite a few things to share with you today, so I will just get started.
Books: I wanted to share about two different books I will be reviewing in the next several posts.
  1. The first book is called “Happiness”, by Randy Alcorn. I wrote a few reviews of the book in January of this year, after deciding to make my word for 2016 HAPPINESS and purchasing the newly released book. I want to finish the reviews and also share how God has used this book/my word this year so far to grow my faith. Here is the first post I wrote on the book, called "Our Quest for Happiness" 
  2. The second book I'll be reviewing is called “Hope Prevails” by Michelle Bengtson. This book is being released this next week (August 16th). As soon as I receive it and read it, I will be sharing a review on this book, too.
So, I hope you will be returning to read what I have to say about these two interesting and informative books.
My health:
I also wanted to share some things that I have had to deal with. If you have been reading my posts lately, you surely know I have been through some physical challenges and hardships. Some have had to do with my digestive system, which had been compromised due to other prior problems. I have had to make some major changes to my diet, as well as other health choices, which has been difficult for me. I also have dealt for many years with ongoing female hormonal issues. Well, last week I met with my gynecologist and she has informed me that the only choice for me at this point would be for me to have a hysterectomy. I have been struggling a lot more lately with pain and am ready to have the surgery. So, please keep me in your prayers. My surgery is tentatively set for Septbember 27th and will require 4-6 weeks for recovery. This will be a perfect time for me to read and review the books I have mentioned above! Doesn’t God have amazing timing?

Gratitude list:
Lastly, I wanted to continue in adding to and sharing my gratitude list. I have realized over the years that, as I go through some of the most difficult circumstances, remembering my blessings has helped me to stay strong and be reminded of the goodness of the Lord, which, in turn encourages me and others that I have shared with. I am grateful for these things:

#1844 - What I see on this side of eternity is a mere reflection of what is to come. So many times I have been confused or discouraged, but in my limited and imperfect knowledge of eternity I cannot fathom God's ultimate plan. I'm so thankful He sees and knows all and one day I will fully see, also!
#1845 - Our son will turn 24 years old tomorrow - August 13th. Even though we won't be able to see him on his birthday, I put together and wanted to share all the many blessed times we have had with him over the past year. Praying we will be re-united with him again soon!
#1846 - GOD  IS OUR ANCHOR OF HOPE FOR OUR SOULS IN THESE CHALLENGING TIMES! We can rest in knowing we are safe and secure, as HE walks beside us!
#1847 - Memories are such wonderful treasures of life! Time spent with loved ones are so precious!
#1848 - Long summer days - My favorite time of the year is summer and I soak up every moment!
#1849 - Meaningful alonetime, which is a powerful need and a necessary tonic in today's rapid-fire world. Time with the Lord is precious!!
#1850 - For a wonderful doctor, who is very caring and assuring me that the next step I am taking is going to be a good one. God will take care of me and heal me fully of my illnesses!
#1851 - Books to read - to encourage us, help us live more godly lives, and educate us!!
#1852 - Catching up with a wonderful friend in Christ who is like a sister to me. True friendship is such a blessing!!


You may find me linking up at any of the blog parties listed on the left sidebar.