Just One Word

Can one word change your life? We believe the answer is yes. Think about it. It only took one word to accept a wedding proposal, and a word like “cancer” can send your life into a tailspin.

But the word we want to talk about for the next two weeks is one each of us have chosen to focus on in the new year. We hope you’ll join us in prayerfully choosing your own word. By focusing on this word, we hope the heightened awareness will help each of  grow in that area.

 

Of course the list can go on and on. Last year, my word was “gratitude.” I wanted to learn to be grateful in all circumstances–even the bad ones. It wasn’t hard to be grateful on our Alaskan cruise, surrounded by friends and God’s beauty, but it wasn’t as easy sitting by my husband’s hospital bed, day after day in the ICU.

Gratitude fills me whenever I look at our family photo this year.
Gratitude fills me whenever I look at our family photo this year.

Still, my year of “gratitude” focus helped me see the blessings God was pouring in during that time. I was surrounded by family and friends, both in person, by phone, and through Facebook. People from across the country lifted him before the Father, including those who didn’t even know him.

Incredible doctors took care of him.  One of those is a man who studied at Harvard and John Hopkin’s and did his residency at Mayo. He had dual specialties in pulmonology and infectious disease. He grew up in Council Bluffs and came back here because he wanted to be close to his patients. This incredibly kind doctor left at 11 at night and came in before 5 to check on David. I had to think God put him in this place, at this moment to be here for us. And I was incredibly grateful.

So what is this year’s word? I’m teaching a ladies class at church, and for the last few weeks, we’ve been studying “wisdom.” I’ve decided to make that my word for the year. God promises to give us wisdom when we ask for it ( ). I want to be more aware of asking for and using wisdom in all areas of my life– in making healthy choices, in the words I use, in the things I commit to, and in the words I put on a page for readers.

Ready to pick your word? There are no rules, and we’d love to hear it.

Attitude of Gratitude

We all heard the saying: Have an attitude of gratitude.

 

It’s a great sentiment, but sometimes hard to practice in our busy lives. Let’s face it. Life is stressful.

 

Teachers reprimand.

 

Bosses yell.

 

Children argue.

 

Spouses disappoint.

 

During those times it’s hard to keep an attitude of gratitude, isn’t it?

 

Yet if we are grateful for everything we have, no matter how small, we can weather the tough days.

Gratitude 1

Here a few little things I thank God for that help me keep my ‘attitude of gratitude’ on difficult days.

 

  • A favorite song on the radio
  • A co-worker’s sense of humor
  • A husband that cooks breakfast and/or starts dinner
  • The beautiful fall leaves
  • Glistening snow (yep, I like snow and wintertime!)
  • My granddaughter’s laughter
  • My mobility

 

These are just the tip of the iceberg. Can you add more to my list?

Will you be the one of ten?

Jesus Heals Ten Men With Leprosy

11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy[a] met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.

Only one says thank you

 

15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.

17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

Did you catch that? Even Jesus seemed incredulous. One of the ten healed lepers returned to fall at Jesus’ feet. Only one! And to make it even more remarkable, that man was a Samaritan, someone who was not “allowed” to mingle with Jews.

He knew what the rules were yet he couldn’t stay away. Jesus had healed him, saved his life, perhaps saved him for eternity. He recognized Jesus’ sovereignty, his authority – his love. He knew Jesus could have healed the other nine and left him, the Samaritan, out. Jesus could have been selective about which of the lepers to heal, maybe pausing to look into their hearts to see who “deserved” it most. But without even approaching the men, He healed them all, the Samaritan included.

So why would ten people in desperate need of healing, outcasts from all of society, not climb over each other to thank their Healer? Why would only one think to turn back and fall at His Master’s feet in worship and thanks?

Based on today’s society (which I don’t think is all that different from thousands of years ago), I would venture to guess it was a sense of entitlement that kept them from bothering. He was Jesus, after all – wasn’t it His job to heal people? They asked, He provided. End of story.

We live in a society that provides the best of everything. Even if your life isn’t worthy of being on Entertainment Tonight (thank goodness!) and you struggle to make ends meet, you are still better off than 95% of the world. Yet how often do we throw ourselves at our Master’s feet to thank Him for all that we have? How often does it occur to us to stop everything, lift our hands and cry out our thanks?

Not often enough for me. I think I’m a pretty thankful type of person. I’m so grateful for my health and my family, a lovely home, dear friends, a solid church. I know I deserve none of it, yet He has been gracious enough to fill my cup to overflowing. But I will admit I still stomp my foot when things don’t go my way, when I don’t get what I want when I want it. Hmm.

In all honesty, I am probably more like the nine than the one. Ouch. This passage reminds me that all I have is by the grace of God and I should be on my knees regularly thanking Him for providing for me, forgiving me, healing me, dying for me, loving me.

I think I’m going to work harder at being the one – and encourage others to join me. Perhaps one day it will be nine who fall at His feet and one we drag along with us.

Count Your Blessings

I wrote the following devotional piece years ago about how being more aware of my blessings  helped me overcome a huge fault I was struggling with at the time — impatience.

I guess impatience runs in my family. My mother prayed for patience once. Broke her leg. I once had a mentor who decided I needed to work on becoming more patient.

“Like the Bible says,” she began, “patience comes through trials. It also helps you appreciate what you have instead of rushing around trying to get more all the time.”

I nodded. “So what do I have to do?”

“See what I mean? No patience!” She laughed. “I want you to make yourself wait. Even if you’re in a hurry. Get in the longest line, the slowest lane, and wait.”

I frowned. The broken leg almost sounded better.

“While you’re waiting, think about the good things in your life. Your blessings. Make a mental list. Or even write them down. Every day the list will change and grow. Start with A and go through the alphabet, naming a gift you’ve received from God that begins with each letter.”

No patience?! How did she know? Had I told her that I’d been pulled over three times for speeding and once for a rolling stop just within the past year? I’d been proud of the fact that I lucked out and was given only one ticket—the stop sign. The rest were just warnings. Somehow that feat no longer seemed important.

I thanked her for her help and left. I decided to go to the credit union. It was payday. I hated going to the credit union on payday — the lines were always horrendous. I picked the longest one and took my place at the end of it. I looked around. A scrolling sign displayed ads boasting of low interest loans and free checking. Every window was open and had a sea of green uniforms flowing toward it.

Why had I come here? I’d probably be in line at least thirty minutes. I should have used the ATM! I could feel the stress creeping through my body.

Then I remembered my assignment and began to think up something to be thankful for.

A. What blessing did I have that started with an A? All I could think of were apples. I doubted if apples were a gift given by God to me personally, but I did like apple pie, so I went on to B. Baskets. I had recently purchased several baskets at a home party. A large round flat one now held the magazines that once cluttered my living room. Not necessarily a gift from God, but hey, I was moving right along.

I became pretty creative by the time I got to Q, and before I knew it, I was standing in front of a harried-looking teller. I smiled. Sincerely. I was in a good mood despite the lengthy wait. She seemed amazed that I was actually smiling after waiting in such a long line. The lines of stress eased from her face. She smiled back. I decided this count-your-blessings stuff was contagious.

Today I’m a pretty patient person. I attribute that to this lesson learned from a wise mentor. Someone I’m grateful God placed in my life when I needed her most. I still use the A-B-C gratitude list from time to time. Sometimes while I’m walking or driving, I’ll start with A and move down the list. That exercise often helps me recall things I’m grateful for that I’d taken for granted.