Why is Saying “Thank-You” so Difficult?
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“Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?” Romans 8:32 (NLT)

Her petite frame bent low, worn from nearly a century of living. Small in stature but oh, her heart – full and generous and always giving – barely containable. One could never out-give her, never repay her. “Just say thank-you, that’s all,” she’d say.

Open hands to receive and a grateful heart is all she asked in return. She gave what we couldn’t earn. She gave more than we deserved. All because she loved – delighted in providing for others. And today, nearly eight years since her passing, my heart spills gratitude; not for the gifts but for the giver.

Sarah Young, in Jesus Calling reminds us, “Sometimes {God’s} children hesitate to receive {His} good gifts with open hands. Feelings of false guilt creep in, telling them they don’t deserve to be so richly blessed…When a child of {God} balks at accepting {His} gifts, {He} is deeply grieved. When you receive {His} abundant blessings with a grateful heart, {God} rejoices.”

Oh the love of the greatest Giver of this universe cannot be contained or out-given. We can do nothing to earn his love nor do we deserve it. But. He. Still. Loves. Us. He can’t help but love us because we are his children, made in his image. He gives generously – holds nothing back – not even his Son. All he asks is that we receive with open hands and a grateful heart. And when we do? He dances, sings, rejoices!

What gift is God holding out to you, today? Do you find it difficult to receive because you feel undeserving? Because you don’t believe it’s a “no strings attached” gift? Young makes a poigniant remark, “{God’s} kingdom is not about earning and deserving; it’s about believing and receiving.”

When we accept God’s gift with true gratitude our hearts overflow, spill out toward others. Receiving with gratitude and giving with heart-full love is stepping into God’s kingdom flow. This is the abundant life Jesus came to give – still gives. Will you receive it?

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17 (NIV)

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10b (NIV)

Prayer: Oh Lord, we stand here today with open hands and grateful hearts. Thank-you heavenly father, for holding nothing back from us; for freely giving us your Son so that we may come into your presence, live with you forever. Teach us to believe with open hearts, to receive with open hands, to live gratefully and love generously.

Everyday Thanksgiving

In the month of October three new members were added to my extended family. Our nephew and his wife had a beautiful baby boy.  Our niece and her husband adopted a son from Korea and brought him home to meet … Continue reading

Staring Down A Scary Path
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“You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalm 8:11

 The graveyard path stared me down. It was the safest route to school, she said. Yet, my first grade feet stood motionless–planted in fear at the opposite corner. I cowered my head into my mother’s side. No words of comfort, no logical argument could persuade me to cross that street and enter the gates of death.

Then, the friendly crossing guard lady approached, holding open a small, black, silk change purse filled with rainbow sweetness. Nursing a pink jelly bean, I listened to her calming voice. “Don’t be frightened,” she said. “I’ll watch you walk that path and I’ll be right here when you come home. Now take this little purse and suck on a jelly bean when you feel scared. You can do this. I’ll see you soon and Mommy will be here waiting for you, too.”

Isn’t it like that sometimes when we’re faced with God’s chosen path in our lives? We stand–firmly planted in the familiar, the safe–in a stare-down with God’s chosen path. The leaving looks like death–scary and unfamiliar territory. We want to turn around, run back home or take another path.

God meets us and leads the way–feeding us sweet nuggets of encouragement through his Word with each frightening step until we are fully immersed in His joy. What’s better, unlike the crossing guard, he never leaves our side, but walks with us–even through the shadow of the valley of death–until the very end.

 Are you or your family faced with a scary, unfamiliar God-path today? Are your hearts gripped with fear at the overwhelming road ahead? Grab onto God’s hand in faith together and let Him lead you. Lean into His side and find reassurance and joy in His presence and through His word.

 “I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” Psalm 16:8

 Prayer:

Oh Lord, sometimes your paths frighten us. Your ways are unfamiliar and at times beg us to leave the comforts of home. Yet, Lord, may we find comfort in your promise that you “will never leave us nor forsake us.” Speak your words into our hearts. Whisper your sweet comfort and lead us down your path that always leads to life.

How Do You Make God Real?
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 “May your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendor to their children.” Psalm 90:16

We snuggled there in the dark gazing at the stars through his open window. Breathing in his little boy scent, wondering how many more nights of after dark cuddling were left between us, his profound question interrupted my thoughts.

“Who made the stars?”

“God did,” I quietly smiled hugging him a bit tighter.

“And who made the moon?”

“God did. And you know what?” I asked.

“What?”

“God made you, too. And He loves you more than all the stars in the entire world!”

As we marveled at God’s shining handiwork suspended above us, my thinker-boy asked more questions until, in his child-like way, understood God’s immeasurable love for him.

As a young mother, the idea of growing my child up in the Lord daunted me. How do you teach a child to believe in an invisible God? How do you explain that words spoken into space are heard by his Creator? How will he know Jesus once lived and died and lives again? Exactly how do you explain the unexplicable?

In other words:

How do you make God real?

·  Teachable moments – when an experience lends itself to the spiritual, use age appropriate ways to teach your child about God’s creation, character, and unconditional love.

·  Hard questions – welcome every question and answer them honestly. If you don’t know the answer, research it or ask a trusted expert or church leader.

·  Prayer – pray together often. Teach them the power of prayer by sharing God’s answers to those prayers.

·  God’s miracles – in big and small ways God still performs miracles in our lives and throughout his creation. Look for them together and thank God for his marvelous deeds.

·  Trust God – entrust your children’s lives to God. He created them, wrote the script for their lives, and will draw them to Him. For he promises:  

“I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.” Jeremiah 31:33 

How has raising your children up in the Lord looked like for you? In what ways or through what deeds has God shown he was real to your family? What words of wisdom would you offer parents or grandparents in raising children of faith?