Grumbling about a Gift

Grocery grumbling about a gift Fikri Rasyid via unsplasAs I write today, I’m hungry. And my cupboard is bare. Okay, not really bare. By third world standards, it’s bursting at the seams. But I’m out of vegetables, almost out of fruit and down to my last container of homemade soup. Definitely time to hit HEB. (The best grocery chain in the country, for all you non-Texans out there.) I’m a little tired. It’s Friday afternoon, (I write my blogs ahead of time) so the place will be mobbed. Moments ago, I was feeling just a little sorry about having to leave my quiet computer corner in order to go shop, Then I came across this excerpt from my sister-in-law’s most recent email regarding the task of grocery shopping.

“[Grocery shopping is] one of those very gratifying chores, where you have a task to complete and it gets done!  And it’s lovely along the way… I honestly think grocery shopping is good for my soul, since I am more reflective about the abundance of variety and colors in fresh food, extra grateful for provision and the means to buy things that are healthy and good, etc.  Okay, enough of that, but I am with you.  And seriously, thank you for always making time spent on your turf so easy and fun!

She’s coming soon, you see. There will be 13 of us gathered together, and I was telling her how I’m looking forward to stocking up on all the food for our celebration. Usually, I like grocery shopping for the same reasons she mentioned. And as I re-read her quote, I was reminded again of how easy I have it, how easy almost all of us have it.

  • I’ve never had to wring a chicken’s neck or butcher a cow.
  • I don’t even have to weed a garden or grind flour unless I want to.
  • I only pick fruit or harvest fresh veggies when out on a lark in the country.

So, yes, I’m thankful! And yes, I will go shopping—today! In the crowds. As I do, I’ll think about the abundant gift of being able to buy all the food my family needs in one place in about an hour’s time.

  • And when I do the laundry this week, I’ll remember how unusual it is, by global standards, to have so many shirts and pairs of pants.
  • And when I mop the floor, I’ll think of those who barely have a home or maybe have a dirt floor.
  • And when I have to pay those gas prices? I’ll remember how excited some missionary friends of mine were to get a car.

Do you ever complain, then realize you’re actually grumbling about a gift, feeling bad about keeping up with all that you’ve been given? Let’s stop all that nonsense. Begin anew with me today to have a thankful heart. And if you care to share—I’ll be checking in here to read all about it.

May God bless you with a healthy dose of gratitude all week long!

Photo by Fikri Rasyid via Unsplash.com.

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If God Never Did One More Thing…or Are You Tired of Manna?

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Every time I re-read portions of the Old Testament, I’m astounded by the way the Israelites got caught in this loop:

  1. Cry out for help. (For example, “Let us out of Egypt!”)
  2. Experience God’s miraculous provision. (Like parted seas.)
  3. Find a reason to complain. (“We’re thirsty!”)

REPEAT:

  1. Cry out for help. (“Give us food!”)
  2. Experience God’s miraculous provision. (Like manna from heaven.)
  3. Find a reason to complain. (“We’re so sick of eating the same old thing!”)

REPEAT…REPEAT…REPEAT…

But I have grumpy days, don’t you? I feel sorry for myself or evaluate my lot in life and decide it doesn’t measure up to someone else’s. I long for something I don’t have and forget all God has done and all I’ve been given. I’ve seen miraculous provision in my own life, so how am I any different from those Israelites? I’m ashamed to admit that I can get tired of manna too.

I was knocked upside the head by this quote not long ago: “If God never did one more thing for you, you ought to be the happiest person in the world.” (I heard it in a TV sermon, but don’t remember who was preaching.) Oh my, yes! When I step back from my doldrums and recount the miracles in my own life and in those of my loved ones, I quickly realize that any one of those gifts from God should be enough to keep me rejoicing until eternity. How quickly I can forget!

So, today, I want to leave you with this verse, Psalm 42:6, from The Message:

“When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse everything I know of you.”

Has God ever done anything for you? Then, next time you find yourself grumpy or dissatisfied, refresh your memory! I plan to do the same.

‘Love to read your comments here.

Photo from pixabay.com

The Wow Factor

 

wow unsplash Ben White

I was loading clothes into the car when I heard, “Nana! Hi, Nana!” With his mom’s permission, Nick ran for me, unable to hug me because his hands were too full of little cars. I hoisted him up to eye level, and then he saw it—a newly assembled fort awaiting him in his backyard, complete with a rock wall (of sorts) and a wavy slide.

“Oh, my house! My house!” he cried, hardly able to contain himself as we made our way through the fence and over to the gift his mom had found and his dad and “Pop” had worked on most of the day.

You’ve all seen moments like that, times when a child responds to life with unbridled glee. When do we begin to lose that enthusiastic voice of youth coupled with an untarnished gratitude for the good gifts of life? Nick didn’t pause to decide whether or not the green and yellow canvas tenting on his fort were the colors he would have chosen. He was unfazed by the fact that the swings were not yet attached. He was excited about the gift as it was.

Are we? Do we approach our days ready to be excited about what God provides—when, where and how he provides it? Do we say “Oh, wow!” enough? Or has our richly blessed western culture caused us to be jaded, no longer noticing life’s daily blessings?

Let me challenge you to begin anew today to be wowed by God, to open your eyes in a fresh way and proclaim your joy, whether silently or aloud, over the many good gifts, large and small, that will come your way. And won’t you let me know what you discover?

Thanks be to our Father from whom all good gifts come!

*Photo (not my grandson, by the way) by Ben White on Unsplash.com

 

 

 

 

 

Thankful?

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Hello, my friends! I just finished doing my holiday grocery shopping. It is astounding how grumpy people can be while choosing delicious and surprisingly affordable items (eight sweet potatoes for a dollar!) from a clean, well-lit, climate controlled palace of food. Yes, it was crowded. So are parties and sporting events, so… 

Hey, it’s THANKSgiving, not Grumpsgiving. I hope you’ll be the counterculture kid this holiday season, smiling and reminding everyone of all the gifts we already have. And, just in case you need a bit of extra encouragement, please take a moment to watch this video. Yes, I know, it’s going viral, and you may have already seen it. Even if that’s the case, I hope you’ll watch it again. Powerful stuff!

Have a wonderful holiday!

The Saying Goes…

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Steve loves those quirky signs we all see in gift shops and coffee shops. They’re usually made out of a slat of wood or a square of canvas and sport short sayings fit for coffee mugs and fortune cookies (and the little paper squares attached to Yogi tea bags.) Every once in a while he’ll take a snapshot of one and text it around to family members, or maybe post it on Facebook. A few days ago I saw one that said,

“If anything can go well it will.”

  • Murphy’s Law in reverse!
  • Romans 8:28 in slang!
  • And, sadly, something you’ll almost never hear anyone say.

But why not? Isn’t it just as likely that the toast will fall jelly side up? Isn’t it possible that getting lost will lead to a new adventure? Really, now, don’t things go well a lot of the time?

It all depends on how we approach life. Yes, there are plenty of hard times to face, plenty of bugs and bugaboos waiting to spoil our plans. But I have to land, every time, on God is in control. The Bible is full of verses commanding us to approach our days with singing and rejoicing. We rejoice

because God is in control.

because he loves us.

because we await eternity.

One of my favorite verses talks about singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord. Isn’t that how we almost always can—and should—start our days? It all starts when the alarm goes off. I went to school where a favorite phrase was “Expect a miracle.” Expectations are everything when it comes to attitude. And why not expect a miracle? In fact, we begin each day with a miracle—the miracle of Christ in us, with us, going before us. And today, like every day, things can and will go well.

Sing!

Trust!

Begin with the end in mind—a day spent in the company of our Lord.

And let me know how your day goes!

Target Practice (Written a week ago)

 

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As I write this, I’m on a plane headed to Dallas from Vancouver, BC. This sounds delightful, except for the fact that, when I boarded the plane, it was headed to Austin (as in my hometown). Moments before we were due to land, the captain came on the speaker and said, “Folks, you’ve probably noticed how we’ve been flying around in a circle for a while. There’s a bit of bad weather in Austin right now. We can only circle for about 10 more minutes before we’ll have to reroute.” You could almost feel the hopes and prayers flowing through the cabin as we circled, but the scheduled landing was not to be. ‘Same goes for the Fourth of July evening I thought we’d be spending watching fireworks with our grandchildren. Ditto for the good night’s sleep to make up for our very early departure to the airport this morning.

So, now I get to practice what I preach, to trust that all will be well, to exhibit a joyful God-is-in-control attitude as I await further news and instructions. It helps to look at my blessings here:

  • I am NOT in the tight and non-reclining last row, center seat. (‘Did that last month for a short flight that couldn’t have been short enough.)
  • I still have a good bit left in my water bottle and one more snack bar. (Okay, it’s not a snack bar, it’s a packet of instant oatmeal, but that’s better than nothing if we’re stuck in plane for hours. Maybe Steve has a little bit of chocolate left and will be willing to share.)
  • My phone still has juice, so I can read more of the Eugene Peterson book Steve bought for us on Kindle.
  • I followed the nudge to wear very light clothes, which will come in handy if we sit on the tarmac and the a/c goes weak.
  • Steve is with me, and we are safe.

There’s probably even more hidden blessings here. Some I may notice later. Some I may never know about. But I am here. And I am smiling. And I hope my “misfortune” will be, as you read this, a word of encouragement for you today.

(Photo by Nickas Tidbury via Unsplash.com.)