Caring Completely For Another

DSC_0104

Check out these cuties, huh?? Featuring my sweet, sweet husband and I expressing how very much in love we feel. ūüėė

This week I’m pulling out some thoughts and feelings from a little ways back. About a month ago, my husband had a flu-like illness that basically put him out of commission for five days, and it was a really tough time for me (as you’ll see below). There’s almost a little irony in the timing of sharing this post with you though. We are experiencing some health issues in our little family of two currently as well, so many of the thoughts below are similar to what I’m feeling now, even though our situation is very different than it was a month ago when I originally wrote them down. If you have a moment and wouldn’t mind praying for my husband and I as we wait on God for answers, we sure would appreciate it. ‚̧

There’s a bit of vulnerability here. I was so drained during these tough days. And I was (and am) SO not the perfect wife. But God IS perfect. He continually reminds me that I need to be humble so He can be sovereign.

See also: Boundless Love and Honest Efforts

Much to my dismay, sometimes it takes a week or two of difficult days and exhausting episodes for me to really get the picture. I suppose it is a good thing that God cares enough to keep showing me how to live like Him, but sometimes it’s a lot to handle. Please enjoy these thoughts on what it was like to care completely for another, the days of living through and learning from my husband being sick.

Ice Cream Party

Photo by Logan Nolin on Unsplash

1. It takes a lot more time and effort to care for two people than it does to care for one.

Before Caleb and I got married, I lived in an apartment with a couple other girls. We were all friendly but pretty much kept to ourselves. They were a year above us in school and when they graduated this May, I lived alone until after the wedding. Living alone was actually a wonderful time of rest, peace, and freedom for me. I only had myself to clean up after. I only had my preferences to take into account. I only had me except when Caleb would come over (which was frequently), and I thoroughly enjoyed those moments of solitude.

Now that we’re married, everything is us and ours. It’s our apartment, our bed, our bathroom. Thankfully, Caleb is a wonderful and responsible human being, so two people making messes meant two people helping clean up. When he was sick though, all those daily chores were my responsibility, as well as the tasks involved with caring for his sickness. I already have a high respect for single moms and dads out there, but my goodness did these days open my eyes. I could only do so much as one person when there were two people to take care of, and I now have only a small glimpse of what it would be like to live as a single parent. If you are in this position, you have my utmost respect and prayers. In our household, the dishes did not always get done. The laundry piled on the floor. I still had to go to work, attend classes, study for tests, do homework, and take care of a sick husband. Some things fell much lower on the priority list than they normally would for me. And I had to be okay with that. I had to prioritize taking caring for my husband first, taking care of myself second, and taking care of everything else much, much less. So that’s what I did.

2. When push comes to shove, it’s harder than you think to be excited about that whole “in sickness and in health” thing.

Now, it’s not like I’m an unreasonable wife. I’m not about to¬†leave my husband because he happened to be sick and interrupt our regularly scheduled programming for several days. All I’m saying is: it’s tougher than you think to uphold this promise with love and joy like the devoted wife we all hoped we’d be. Of course, nobody actually said anything about promising to be devoted in sickness and in health and maintaining our sunny demeanors while we’re at it. Taking care of a sick husband is hard. It’s hard to smile when your partner is suffering. It’s hard to be joyful when you wake up every morning hoping he’s feeling better, and every morning that tired face tells you without a word: “Not today, dear.”

I could expand on those wedding vows to give you a picture of what I was feeling. For me this week, it was a promise to stand (or sit on the couch, or lay in bed) by my husband’s side in sickness and in health, even when it meant pausing my busy day to make sure he was well-cared-for. Even when caring for him meant adding stress to my already-full plate. Even when his being sick meant changing all the plans I had carefully laid out for the week. I promised to love him, comfort him, honor and keep him, for better or for worse, in sickness¬†and in health. So that’s what I did.

3.  I have grown in my ability to be flexible and patient when plans change.

Anyone who knows me knows that I like to plan. Love it, really. Every once in awhile, I almost become obsessed with planning. I like to be organized and to know what to expect. And for a very long time, I did¬†not like to have my plans messed with. You can imagine how well this worked out for me, considering it is, in fact, God who’s in control. Not me. One of the things I get to plan now that I’m married is our meals and grocery list for the week. I plan it so we have exactly enough meals for every day of the week until I plan to go grocery shopping again. This keeps us from wasting food, eating unhealthily, and scrambling to put food on the table. It does not work, however, when I plan for two of us to eat and only one of us is well enough to consume all those beautifully planned meals.

The first day Caleb was sick, we bought Saltine crackers, chicken noodle soup, and Sprite on the way home from the doctor. We both had soup and crackers for dinner that night, which was not at all what I planned. But instead of resigning myself to soup and crackers for both of us, I decided that I could shift the original plan to accommodate only one mouth being fed. I decided that I didn’t need to get frustrated and throw everything out the window just because my husband couldn’t eat the meals I spent so much time and effort planning and preparing. I noticed that my attitude was more flexible than I expected it to be. I was more open to change. I could prepare those meals for myself. I learned that it was okay to enjoy them, even if he couldn’t share the enjoyment with me. So that’s what I did.

david-mao-7091.jpg

Photo by David Mao on Unsplash

In Conclusion…

God is so, so good, and I am so, so grateful that He cares enough about me to teach me little lessons like this. If only I had taken my own advice then and done life one thing at a time! I imagine things would’ve been a little less stressful…

So, my dear friends, those are the thoughts of a tired young wife in the midst of the great love of Jesus. I hope you found something of value in these words, something relatable or encouraging, maybe. And if you did, please let me know, because I would love to chat. ūüėä

 

 

Walking God’s Way, A Perspective of Praise

Well, my friends. We’ve made it to the SIXTH and final week of Six Weeks in Psalms. Even though it took a couple more than six weeks to get here (life happens), I am so, so excited to share with you this final segment! It is a short and sweet ending to our amazing journey through Psalm 103.


Praise, Praise, Praise

20 Praise the Lord, you his angels,
    you mighty ones who do his bidding,
    who obey his word.
21 Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts,
    you his servants who do his will.
22 Praise the Lord, all his works
    everywhere in his dominion.

Praise the Lord, my soul.

Psalm 103:20-22, NIV

After responding in my journal to verses 17-18 that I shared with you last time we met to discuss Psalm 103, I just read the verse above out loud to myself before closing my Bible that day. I love how they sound. I love how it feels to say them. I repeated them three times over before ending my devotional time. When I next sat down to respond to these verses, I was struggling with my reaction to a time when I was called to love self-sacrificially, which you can read more about here.¬†(Spoiler alert: I did not react as kindly as I should have to this opportunity for growth ūüėĆ).

This week, however, days after that growth opportunity, I am quite content to spend more time consciously reflecting on David’s call to praise. I would encourage you to find a space where you can read those verses aloud to yourself too. There is something so refreshing about responding to scripture in this way. Read them three times if you wish, or just once or twice. It might feel silly at first, but I dare you to try. Do it right now. Go ahead! I’ll wait.

…….

What I want us to notice about these verses is that no one is left out of the category of who (or what as the case may be) should be praising God right now. His angels, His hosts, His works, His followers. You. Me. And David recognizes that He isn’t left out of this category either, which is why at the end of the chapter he turns his perspective toward himself.

pinterest 6wk psalms 6

Photo by Ross Kohl on Unsplash

Calling Our Souls to Praise: Walking God’s Way

If we are walking with Christ, we need to turn our feet, our souls, our hearts, to a perspective of praise.

See also: “Praise the LORD” is not a contingent statement.

Everything in creation is praising God all the time. The flowers, the snow, the trees, the rocks. They all grow, fall, stand, and rest in reflection of His perfect design. If they can praise without lips or eyes or hands or feet, we should be able to do the same.

“Praise the Lord, my soul.”

It’s almost a command. Like David knows he (and we) struggle to turn ourselves toward Jesus, but his spirit is willing and just needs that extra push. “Okay, soul. God is good. God is worthy to be praised. Praise Him.”

We know this too. We see it every day, even if we don’t realize it. God is so, so good. He put the sun in the sky so we could see His creation. He has given us working brains and bodies to help us function. He has given us love and relationships and grace and mercy. There is¬†so much goodness going on all the time, but we don’t always notice. We let it slip by. We take it for granted. We walk away from the path Jesus laid out for us. We walk away from Him. But we can always come back.

Back to a Perspective of Praise

One way that I love to turn my heart back to a perspective of praise is very, very simple. A short, two sentence prayer.

“Lord, I praise you. Thank you for all You have done, all You are doing, and all You have yet to do.”

I like the model David gives us because it’s pretty similar to this prayer. God is worthy to be praised, so we need to be praising Him. Every. Single. Day.

In church this past Sunday I was reminded of our need to have a perspective of praise when we sang one of my favorite hymns, “Jesus Paid It All”. The message (and even the title!) give us enough reason to praise Jesus already. He saved us. He redeemed us. He forgave us. He washed our sin-stained lives until they were as white as snow. I love that imagery, but my favorite part of this hymn is the bridge.

oh praise

Photo by Elijah Hail on Unsplash

What I love most about singing this hymn in church is when the worship leader repeats the bridge over and over again. It’s like I can almost feel the praise building up in my soul as I sing out those words: “Oh, praise the One who paid my debt, and raised this life up from the dead.”

“Praise the LORD, my soul.”

What a beautiful picture. My soul, my whole being praising God, just like it was created to do.

Let me end these thoughts with a prayer for all of us:

“God, we know you are so, so good. We know you are might and awesome and powerful. We praise You for the ways you are working, even when You’re working behind the scenes. Help us to turn our hearts toward a perspective of praise. Help us to call upon our souls, the whole of our beings, to praise you. You are good. You are worthy to be praised. We praise You, Lord, and we love you. Amen.”

 

Thanks for joining me this week, my lovelies. I hope you venture through this week with these words in mind. ‚̧

How to Do Life One Thing at a Time

I almost hate to say it, but this has been another tough, tough week for my husband and I. We’ve dealt with sickness, long travel days, overwhelming workloads, and exhaustion. We are spent. I am especially so. Caleb has this wonderful resilient quality that I seem to lack. It’s often hard for me to recover from feeling drained emotionally and physically, which creates this awesome (not) downward spiral and feeling more and more drained.

BUT, God is still good.

He is¬†always¬†good.¬†Always worthy to be praised. And this is just one of those times when I find it a smidge more difficult to point my heart towards a perspective of praise. Thankfully, this good, good God has given me a wonderful tool to work on shifting my attitude. That is what I would like to share with you today, even though this would’ve been the sixth and final week of our Psalm series. I promise I’ll get back to that. But for now, my lovely friends, allow me to share with you what God is doing in my heart through these days of stress and exhaustion.

Speaking Through the Stress

You’ll probably hear me say it many, many more times throughout this post, but oh my friends, God is so, so good. He knows what He’s doing, even when we don’t. This morning, I was overwhelmed with the hours of homework, the hours I had to spend at my job, and the very few hours that were left in the day after that. Instead of breaking down in tears (which I may or may not have done yesterday) God planted a simple thought in my mind that changed everything:

“One thing at a time.”

What?

Um, excuse me, Jesus? Do you see how long my to-do list is?

“Yes. You can only do one thing at a time anyways, so it is useless to worry about the rest.”

As many of us may recognize, this isn’t the first time He’s said this.

“34¬†Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Matthew 6:34, NIV

So I resigned myself to the thought that if I was going to get anything done, if I was going to make it through the day, I needed to take it one step at a time. I wrote these words on the whiteboard hanging in our kitchen: “This week’s motto:¬†one thing at a time”. And I held that with me throughout the day. It gave me so much more peace than I expected.

kawin-harasai-221616

Photo by Kawin Harasai on Unsplash

Right Now My One Thing Is…

I had to set some rules so that I was actually forcing myself to stop and focus on¬†only one thing. I couldn’t add any conjunctions or conditions. I could say, “Right now, my one thing is going to work”, but I couldn’t say “My one thing is going to work even though I don’t want to” or “…so that I can make money.” I kept it super simple. No emotions, just facts. Then I let it play out in my day.

I work at a daycare in a class of two and three-year-olds, which can be awfully challenging (high-five to you parents out there doing this all day every day). On Wednesdays, those cute little things are especially¬†challenging.¬†I don’t know what it is. It’s like the middle of the week comes and they have less listening skills and more energy (very, very bad combo). So today, with my one thing mantra in mind, sometimes I needed to focus on something¬†really small. “Right now, my one thing is waiting for this kid to wash their hands.” I knew the reason I needed him to be done washing his hands, but I tried to only focus on my current activity. Not the reasons behind it, not the activity following it.

After a long day at work, I got into the car with my husband and shared how this mantra helped me keep my sanity more than once. When you’re only focusing on one thing, there’s only one child’s tantrum to calm instead of three. There’s only one diaper to change instead of ten. I still had ten diapers to change, but I only had to do¬†one at a time. One thing, one step, one problem at a time.

Perspective on the Present

Another incredible thing I realized about only focusing on one thing at a time is that I had no choice but to stay focused on the present moment. And you know what happened? I was shockingly¬†not overwhelmed. The present moment isn’t so bad. It’s just one little thing to focus on. All this other stress I had accumulated about things going on in my family or in my life were not part of the present moment, so they weren’t part of my focus.

One thing at a time means I can’t think about how hard the last thing I just did was. I can’t think about how long my weekend was, or how little free time I had yesterday. When I’m focused on the present, the past doesn’t creep up and overwhelm me. I can’t keep records of wrongs or stressors or external circumstances. The past moments, even the ones that were just a few minutes ago, they don’t matter in the present. Am I really about to get stressed because I have to wait for this three-year-old to wash his hands? No. That act in itself isn’t stressful. When I think about how I’ve already been changing diapers for 20 minutes and I still have several more to go,¬†that’s where my stress comes from.

Focusing on the present means I can’t worry about the future either. “Right¬†now, my one thing is…” Not this afternoon, not tonight, not by the end of this week. Right¬†now. This is exactly what Jesus tells us to do in Matthew 6:34. In my colloquial version, He’s basically saying, “Look, guys, you can be worried all you want about what’s happening tomorrow or your to-do list or whatever, but you literally can’t do anything to make tomorrow come faster. You’re just going to be worried then too. Save yourself some stress and focus on what’s happening in the present moment. Focus on what you can get done right now, instead of all the other stuff you have to do later.”

Short Little Baby To-Do Lists

It almost seems a little silly, but if I only focus on one thing at a time,¬†there’s only one thing on my to-do list. Breathe deeply with me for a second, because that is a crazy thought.

In the present moment, we can only do¬†one thing.¬†“Right now, my¬†one thing is…”

And then (here’s another crazy thought), after we do that one thing, voila! That short little baby to-do list is done, and we can focus our energy and attention on the next one.

Do you remember how it feels when you only have one thing left on your to-do list? When you’re almost done? I usually feel a little bit more energized because I have the confidence that I’ve already made it this far! What if we felt like that all the time? What if we told ourselves it was okay to have a short little baby to-do list¬†all¬†the¬†time? If we only focus on one thing, that’s how we can live our lives.

“Right now my one thing is…”

kenny-abella-29816

Photo by Kenny Abella on Unsplash

God is So, So Good

I told you I’d say it again. My friends, this is so, so true! God’s goodness is infinite, and we are truly blessed that He cares for us so deeply. Before I leave you to go about your business, I want to share with you a few scriptures that really sum up what I’ve shared with you today.

 1. Matthew 6:33-34, NIV

“33¬†But seek first his kingdom¬†and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.¬†34¬†Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Not only is God telling us not to worry, He’s also saying He has¬†totally got us covered. Seek Him and His goodness, and you’ll be good to go (hey, hey little play on words there ūüėÜ).

2. Psalm 46:10-11, NIV

10¬†He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God;¬†I will be exalted¬†among the nations,¬†I will be exalted in the earth.’¬†11¬†The¬†Lord¬†Almighty is with us;¬†the God of Jacob¬†is our fortress.

Be still. Stay in the present moment. God is mighty, and He will keep you safe, no matter how much your to-do list threatens you.

3. Matthew 11:28-30, NIV

“28 ‘Come to me,¬†all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.¬†29¬†Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,¬†for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.¬†30¬†For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.'”

Weary and burdened? That’s me right now, and probably some of you too. He says to us,¬†“Come. I will give you rest.” God is so, so good. He offers not physical rest but rest for our¬†souls, our entire beings. Come and rest.

 

Okay, so this post was a long one. Cheers to you if you stuck it out till the end. Thanks for joining me on this journey friends. ‚̧

Boundless Love and Honest Efforts

This week is the second to last post in what has been (I hope) an engaging and restorative look through Psalm 103. We have reached week 5 on this 6-week series, and I’m already looking forward to what God places on my heart to write about next! I am so thrilled to have you here reading today, and if you’re brand-new to this series I’d love for you to start at the beginning and catch up on all the other Psalm-y goodness.

Last week we talked about the human condition, and I shared some personal responses to my need for God’s love and healing in my life. This week’s verse will reflect a similar theme, as we discuss how great God’s love is for sinners like us. Let’s take a look.


jeremy-thomas-98201

Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash

Blessed by a Boundless Love

But from everlasting to everlasting
    the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
¬†¬†¬†¬†and his righteousness with their children‚Äôs children‚ÄĒ”

Psalm 103:17, NIV

“From everlasting to everlasting” brings up such a beautiful picture in my mind. To me, this means a love that is with us forever, anywhere and everywhere. Because it isn’t just “everlasting”, but from¬†everlasting to¬†everlasting.¬†That’s a very, very long time. Travel through time with me so we can process this idea.

If we could magically think back to the earliest¬†period of the history of the world, and if we could look ahead to the last moment before the universe ceases to exist,¬†then we could understand how long God’s love will stay with us and just how very great that love is. His love is basically unimaginable, and the words the psalmist¬†uses demonstrates how difficult this is for us to grasp.¬†From everlasting to everlasting. It is a boundless love. It is a deep love. It is an infinite love.

Conditions, Human and Otherwise

There’s just a little more in this section that finishes the sentence started in verse 17:

But from everlasting to everlasting
    the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
¬†¬†¬†¬†and his righteousness with their children‚Äôs children‚ÄĒ
18 with those who keep his covenant
    and remember to obey his precepts.

Psalm 103:17-18, NIV

First, we talk about how great and deep and wonderful God’s love is, then we discuss who the beneficiaries of this love are: those who fear him, those who keep his covenant, and those who remember to obey.

Whelp. Guess I’m out of the running on this one. There is no way to fit make my brokenness fit against that standard.

But that’s not the point.

We already learned earlier in the psalm that God understands and considers the weaknesses and limitations of our human condition. Are we now finding out that (surprise!) He actually expects us to fear him, keep his covenant, and obey Him every day, all the time? Is that the only way we can experience this great love?

Thankfully, no.

Is His love conditional on us performing perfectly (which He knows we cannot do)?

No.

So why include these “conditions”?

Hope for True Believers

I read through a couple commentaries in order to better understand this passage of scripture and one shed light on a very important detail. The psalmist uses these words to express that God’s love and faithfulness are available to those who are¬†believers. Not perfect believers, but¬†true believers. Those who honestly¬†desire¬†to serve God and “keep his covenant”, which these believers know can only be done through¬†His grace and provision. Those who “remember to obey” refers to those who know God’s commandments and seek to practice them.

It is not perfection that God desires, it is our honest efforts to practice.

Practice, not perfection. Say that to yourself a few times. Write it on your mirror. Put it on a sticky note and place it somewhere you will read it often. My friends, you cannot be perfect. Don’t wear yourself out by trying. God’s incredible, all-consuming, deep, deep love is available to you right now. Not some indefinite point in the future when you think you’ve earned it. You¬†cannot earn this love. It’s freely given. It’s yours. And you’re His.

Practice, not perfection.

practice, not perfection (1)

Background photo by Darius Soodmand on Unsplash

The Human Condition

This post may contain affiliate links. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

Last week we discussed how God designed us with beauty in mind. Sin skewed His perfect plan, but He still found a way to redeem us. He knows and loves us intimately, and cared enough to sacrifice everything so we could be made flawless. Today we only have one verse. One pure message about our intimacy with God. Read on, my lovely friends, and revel in God’s goodness.


austin-ban-14620

Photo by Austin Ban on Unsplash

Formed from Dust

“for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.”

Psalm 103:14, NIV

At first, it doesn’t sound very encouraging. We’re dust? So we’re, like, nothing? Well, yes and no. Listen to how the footnotes of the NIV Life Application Study Bible give us insight:

“We are fragile, but God’s care is eternal. … When God examines our lives, he remembers our human condition. … His mercy takes everything into account. God will deal with you compassionately. Trust him.”

So, yes, we are formed from nothing. God first created Adam out of the dust. But no, we are not meaningless to God. He is the one who formed us from the dust. He recognizes our human condition and knows that we can’t help but to be human. Sometimes, however, that means we give in to choices that are less-than-godly. Yet, these footnotes explain, God already knows we are prone to these vices. He already knows we will make mistakes. He is fully aware of our human condition and chooses to treat this condition with compassion.

we are only human

Background photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

My Own Human Condition

The first step I took after reading this verse was to pray. The purity and love of the thought that God made me from dust and yet cares about every hair on my head was awe-inspiring. I wrote a paragraph in my journal about all the thoughts and feelings this one little verse inspired in me.

In an effort to live as a Christian in community, I would like to share with you some of the vulnerabilities of my own human condition. The things that I was struggling with (some of which I still am), the things I needed forgiveness for, the things I desperately wanted God to change in my life. It was a couple of months ago that I wrote these words, but most of them are still very true. Read, reflect, and respond if you will to what God was doing in my heart.

1. Thankfulness and Praise

These are the first few words that poured out:

“LORD, thank you for remembering my human condition, for taking my weaknesses into account. Thank you for dealing with me compassionately even when I offer too many excuses. You are almighty God, but still you love me. I will forever be in awe of this reality.”

I am certain I will forever be in awe of this reality. I believe that this is one of God’s attributes we will never fully understand until we meet Him face-to-face: His unconditional love for a sinner like me.

2. Confession and Forgiveness

After recognizing God’s goodness, I turned my perspective inward and recognized my own sinfulness:

“Lord, I know I’ve chosen poorly, acted rashly, thought lazily, & reacted angrily in the past (even in the past couple days!). I confess my sins to you, Lord. I recognize that I am unworthy of your goodness & love. I confess that I have neglected you, disobeyed you, & ignored you. Forgive these sins. Forgive my distrust & my complacency.”

I’ll confess to you now that it was a little difficult to type those words. Sharing my flaws with you is not the most comfortable thing to do. However, I’ve come to know that confession (and perhaps the discomfort that comes with it as well) is crucial to a thriving relationship with Jesus.

3. Prayers for Redemption and Provision

Finally, my thoughts took a turn back to Jesus. It was time to ask for what I needed from Him during this vulnerable time of prayer and confession:

“Cleanse me Lord, create in me a pure heart –help me to be honest with you, myself, & with those around me. Give me patience & draw my heart toward compassion. Please continue to provide for my well-being. Let me hear what your Spirit is guiding me to. Open my eyes & my heart. I love you. Amen.”

One of my favorite journaling practices is to say “I love you” to God. There’s something about it that makes me feel more deeply connected to Him. We normally reserve this phrase for close human relationships, so I think using it in context with God helps me to understand that He is my Heavenly Father and I am His treasured daughter.

In Our Weakness, He is Strong

I’m well aware of the frailty of the human condition because as some of you know, I lost¬†my Dad suddenly a few years ago. I’m sure that many of you have similar stories of heartache and grief about how quickly life can go by. But none of that compares to how awesome God is. Yeah, it sucks that we and our loved ones are fragile, but God is good and His mercy endures through heartache, through mistakes, through any and all circumstances. He sees our humanness and loves us deeply. In our weakness, He is strong.

weak --- strong

Background photo by Nathan McBride on Unsplash

We are Made to Be Flawless

This week has been a tough one. My husband and I have had workloads piled high, with stress and exhaustion following. So please forgive the fact that I am behind on my blog posts. The goal is to post once a week, but I suppose in this I can offer myself grace. After all, grace is what the Christian life is all about.

Last week, the second segment of Six Weeks in Psalms took us through a list of why God is so awesome. David reminded us that what’s most important is considering God’s goodness above our circumstantial worries. He will always take care of us. This week’s verses take us deeper down that road. Let’s dive right in.


Compassionate, Gracious, Abounding

“8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.”¬†

Psalm 103:8, NIV

I imagine many of us have heard these verses or something similar before. But when I read back through them in preparation for this post, I was again struck by the simple profundity. Do you realize what he’s saying? Compassionate. Gracious. Slow to anger. Abounding in love. Simple words to describe a complex and beautiful thing. God loves and cares deeply. He treats us so much better than we deserve. Just by using the word abounding, the psalmist signals to us that God’s love knows no bounds. He will never stop loving us with this incredible love.

In case it isn’t clear, there are also some examples in this psalm about what these things mean. What does it look like to be covered in the grace of God?

9¬†He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; 10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

Psalm 103:9-12, NIV

God has this incredible power to look at us and see something other than our flaws. God wants us to be cleansed. To be healed. To be holy. And since He knows we can’t do that on our own, He takes it upon himself. He offers himself. His heart. His mercy. His Son.

We are covered in this incredible grace and cleansed by His great love. Our sins have been forgotten, so far removed from us that they can’t even touch this new life we’ve been given.

Our Blemishes Removed

Let me say this again: God wants us to be cleansed, to be healed, and to be holy. He designed us in His image, so we are created to be flawless. Consider for a moment about what that word means. A quick Google search results in this definition: “without any blemishes or imperfections; perfect”. Think back to the above verses. God removed our blemishes the day He sent His Son to die for us. His perfect, flawless Son.

“For our sake he made him to be sin¬†who knew no sin, so that in him we might become¬†the righteousness of God.”¬†

2 Corinthians 5:21, ESV

Jesus knew no sin. He lived a perfect, flawless life. Because of that, it was possible to transfer His righteousness onto our imperfections. No longer are we bound by our transgressions. Our blemishes have been removed. When we accept His salvation, we are born again. We are made new. We are made to be flawless.

you are (1)

Made to Be Flawless

You are covered by grace and love and righteousness. Anything else you do from here on out is already taken care of. That’s part of what it means to be made flawless. You will make mistakes, but your record is clean. You will need to ask for forgiveness, but you will always get it. You will doubt yourself, but He believes you are capable of anything.

Feeling flawless is only a matter of remembering who God made you to be, and living life with this truth tucked in your pocket. Psalm 103 tells us about all the hard work God did to give us a better life than the one we had before. A Christian who is made to be flawless is still human though, and the future will bring opportunities to make mistakes. Give yourself grace (I’m still learning this!). Tell yourself the truth:¬†you are made to be flawless, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be room for improvement.

This is one of those trick concepts when it comes to living a Christian life, so please don’t hesitate to ask how this plays out in my personal journey. Have a great week remembering who God made you to be!

Remembering Why God is Good

Welcome to the second post in my “Six Weeks in Psalms” series! This segment focuses on Psalm 103, a beautiful and simple psalm of praise and thankfulness. Check out the first part of this segment for some background of this psalm and some ideas on how to apply it to your own life! This week we are discussing verses 3 through 6, so stay tuned for some God-lead goodness.


 

Don’t Forget His Benefits

Since we begin this section of verses in the middle of a sentence (and for those of you who missed the first section), let us remind ourselves of the previous verses:

“Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits‚ÄĒ‚ÄĚ

Psalm 103:1-2, NIV

 

The point is God is praiseworthy, and psalmist David then gives us some reasons why this is so. It’s as if David chooses to provide us with a small list of God’s benefits, 1) so that we are less likely to forget, and 2) so we know why God is praiseworthy. Here is that lovely list:

“…3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, 5 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle‚Äôs. 6 The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.‚ÄĚ

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭103:3-6‬ ‭NIV

 

Like I said, anyone who knows God knows this list is a short and sweet version of how wonderful God is and how wonderful for us it is that He loves and cares for us. Interestingly enough though, in our daily lives, I don’t think this is the kind of listing we most often like to do.

The Kind of Listing We Like to Do

I think we wake up in the morning and listing God’s good qualities is far from our minds. We wake up and list the things we have to get done, the things we’re not looking forward to about our day or week, the things that we wish we could be doing instead of going to work or class. We like to list our tasks, our complaints, and our frustrations.

This past week, I could have given you a great long list of things that made me tired or stressed or busy. I wanted to focus on how I wasn’t feeling well, how much homework I had, and how packed my schedule was. But listing my complaints didn’t make any of those things better. For those of you that read last week’s Updates on the Family Front, you know that at any moment I could list several things “going wrong” with my life. Any of us could. But complaining won’t make any of those things start going right. In fact, it might make us miss how much is going right. So David offers us an alternative: a way of listing that will lift our eyes and our attitudes up.

The Alternative: Remember What God is Doing

These verses are all in the present tense (side note: I’m in a grammar class right now and you would not¬†believe how complicated grammar actually is! ūüė≤). Present tense means God is¬†actively working. Right this very minute, God is working in your life and mine. He is¬†currently involved in your comings and goings and cares about how you live out your day. Instead of listing your complaints, list your compliments to God on the good work He is doing. Thank Him for His power and provision, because even though we like to complain now, if He ever chooses to¬†stop working in our lives, we will be in a much, much worse situation. Here are just a few of the things David lists for us to pay attention to:

1. God forgives our sins.

 

It doesn’t matter what else is going right (or going wrong), we need to know Jesus, accept His love and promises, and trust in Him for the forgiveness of our sins. We also need to regularly confess and ask for forgiveness all over again. God¬†forgives¬†our sins. Present tense. We will continue to sin, and He will continue to extend the offer of forgiveness.

 

2. God satisfies our desires.

 

The God we serve is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20), and He does so because He loves us dearly. He also desires that we love Him dearly, and when we do, we will find all out desires satisfied in Him. He is enough to satisfy. He renews. He refreshes. He restores.

 

3. God works toward righteousness.

 

He is looking out for us every single day and cares about what happens. However, He works off His own standard of justice and righteousness and His own timeline, not ours. When we see people suffering (or when we are suffering ourselves), we may wish for swift salvation and justice, but God will work out His good in His time.

The last benefit I’d like to list is one that deserves special attention, so it gets its own heading. Let these next few words sink in. It’s only a short description, but little needs to be said for us to deeply understand this truth. Be refreshed and reminded of this awesome benefit.

redeemed and crowned

God Redeems Us and Crowns Us with Love

“[He] redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion.”

God takes our little lives, cares for them deeply, and brings us into His open arms. He whispers, “You are¬†so loved. You are so dear to me. You are safe here. I am going to take very good care of you.” Then, He takes His all-encompassing, self-sacrificial love and His perfect, far-reaching compassion, offers them freely, and again speaks gently to us: “Take these gifts. They are yours to know and experience. You are mine forever. I love you.”

We are redeemed. We are crowned with love. Present tense.

The Journey Isn’t Over: Updates on the Family Front

Don’t be too disappointed that this post is not the second installment of my new series Six Weeks in Psalms. I promise I’ll get back to that. But God is doing some big things in my life right now, and I feel called to share them with you. It’s a little long-winded, but hang on till the end and it’ll be worth it.

First, Some Background Knowledge

A lot of you already know that I lost my dad a few years ago, which significantly impacted my life and my walk with Christ (so you’ll probably hear about it a lot…sorry/not sorry). But those difficult days weren’t all God had in store for my family. Just 1.5 years later, God also chose to allow my brother Ehren a positive diagnosis for two types of cancer, neither terminal but both requiring¬†long hospital stays, chemotherapy, and surgery over the next year. I might almost say that this shook my life nearly as much the loss of my father because at this point in time I was almost 1,000 miles away from the family I loved and longed for deeply. There was nothing I could do. No course of action for me to take. The only things left were to hope in the good God I knew, to pray for strength and healing and patience, and to lean on my support group in Spokane.

Hoping, Praying, Leaning

I had to hope, because I wanted to believe¬†that God would use this for the good of my family and I. To bring us closer together somehow, or maybe just to bring us closer to Him. At the very least, my mom’s strength, bravery, and commitment to Christ were admirable (as always) and gave hope to more than myself. She helped teach me that God meant what He said. He would take care of us. He would heal the wounds. But He might not do it when or how we expect. The key was to trust and to hope in these words, and many like them:

“For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”

Jeremiah 29:11, NIV

I had to pray,¬†because I needed to stay close to my Savior in this time of frustration and confusion. God is always worthy of praise, but this was one of those times I didn’t feel like praising. My prayers were often wounded and angry. How could He let something like this happen? Hadn’t we been through enough already? Why did it have to be now, when I am so far away? When I can’t hug or hold or help them? But sometimes my prayers were more accepting. Sometimes I could move past the hurt and cling to the love of Christ more than the pain of my circumstances.

I had to lean, because I couldn’t stand on my own. My generous and caring boyfriend-at-the-time (now husband) patiently held me as I cried the day my mom called with the diagnosis. He stayed with me for hours, bought me a milkshake, and let me talk as much or as little as I wanted. This was only a week or two before we said “I love you” aloud to each other, but I felt his love then and needed it desperately. He allowed Christ to work through him when he was clueless about how to help me, and gave me a safe place to lean. My roommates were also kind and compassionate, giving me space when I needed it and company when I wanted it. Everyone I knew did the best the knew how.

My Visit Home

It was difficult to concentrate on school when I knew my family was in pain. I needed to be with them, and my mom needed someone to be by her side in the midst of all this. We have amazing family friends and church family, and we treasured their love and help, but it wasn’t the same. I told my professors I had a family matter, skipped class, and flew home about a month after the initial diagnosis was received. I was glad my mom warned me about my brother’s altered appearance, because his physical health had already begun to deteriorate. It was a lot to take in emotionally; I almost cried the first time I saw him. His body, face, and hair were noticeably thinned. His demeanor was more subdued. He looked sick. The time I spent at home that weekend was bittersweet, and I left feeling sorrow for the situation and hope for the future.

Things Were Looking Better

The cancers were very treatable. The chemotherapy sucked all my brother’s energy, but it did the job. A year of chemo and two surgeries later, and things were looking better. After that he began the long road to recovery. By the time Caleb and I got married in July of this year, his hair and beard had grown some, and he was healthy enough to stand at the altar with us as a groomsman. It was so good to have this wedding and incredible, happy time of celebrating love and life and family, and none of us knew then just how much this time was needed. God was allowing us to get a solid foundation of comfort, of hope, and of happiness, because His plans were bigger than we imagined, and different than we’d come to believe.

Things were looking better. Things were good. We were all happy. Ehren had enough strength to attend one class at community college again (a class he had to drop before because of the chemo, so this was a big win). Two solid months of no health issues, no surgeries, no concerns about future diagnoses. Then, his doctor suggested at CT scan, just to be absolutely sure the cancer was gone and there was nothing else to worry about. They found a mass in his lung that made the doctor nervous. He immediately ordered a biopsy and x-rays. The results came in last week.

The Journey Isn’t Over

He tested positive for Ewing’s sarcoma (one of the same cancers he’d previously had). I was at work when I received the news, and my supervisor on duty was gracious and supportive. My mom very succinctly summed up our shock and initial reactions when she posted this: “The cancer is back. He starts chemo on Monday. That’s all I have for now. Thank you for your prayers.”

This cancer is also treatable, and the doctor is optimistic. My mom is also optimistic. She is brave and strong and caring. She is fighting alongside Ehren, with a team of prayer warriors beside her. Prayer is the biggest thing we can do now. It’s nearly only thing I can do, being yet again almost 1,000 miles away. Thankfully, God has also given us people and resources to help make a tangible impact in support of my family, and my husband and I will be flying down to California in a couple weeks to be with them. To sit together. Cry together. Pray together. Remind each other of God’s great love and compassion.

God is Still Good

“‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord…”

I don’t particularly like this plan of His, but I have to hold firmly to His promises, His Goodness, and His Love. I have to believe that He will continue to work in our lives and our desperate situations. Perhaps He will lead others to Christ because of our faithfulness in Him. Perhaps He will allow our situation to inspire, to encourage…to give hope to others. Lord knows we need that hope. Every one of us, not just those in my family. Every single person, believer or not, needs something to cling to. Something to motivate them to get out of bed. Something to fall back on, so they know this life is worthwhile.

Someone asked me recently: “How do you do it? How do you get out of bed in the morning with all of this going on?” Because I have decided to let my hope be Jesus. To cling to His Word and His promises.

‚ÄúLet us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.‚ÄĚ

Hebrews 10:23, NIV

“Unswervingly”. That means even when life goes haywire or things seem upside down, you hang on tight. I believe that God is faithful. I believe that God is good. I believe that His plans and His purposes are best. Will I still believe that if something goes wrong and my brother’s diagnosis turns out to be worse than we thought? Yes. Will I still believe that even if my mom has to quit her job in order to take care of Ehren’s needs? Yes. Always, always, always, the answer is yes. I believed it when I lost my dad. I believed it when we got the first cancer diagnosis. I believe it now.

An Anchored Hope

I can believe incredible things because I have put my faith in an incredible God. My God is bigger than death. He is bigger than cancer. Bigger than misfortune or discomfort. He has provided me with hope, love, and peace. He has given me a husband who cares and loves deeply. He has given me a mother who is brave and inspiring. He has given me a good life to live.

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure…”

Hebrews 6:19, NIV

I have a tattoo on my ankle inspired by this verse to remind me permanently, for the rest of my life: I have an anchored hope.

Where are you anchored? In what have you put your hope? I would encourage you to let it be Jesus. He is firm and secure. He will take care of you. He has plans to give you a hope and a future. His promises are faithful if you give Him the chance to show you.

My family’s journey isn’t over, and neither is yours. He will be with us and with you every step of the way.

“Praise the LORD” is not a contingent statement.

This is the first segment of a new series called “Six Weeks in Psalms”. Don’t fear that I will attempt to attack every psalm verse by verse (though perhaps I will in my lifetime!), but rather carefully selecting specific psalms that have great significance or value to me personally. The first part of this series will focus on Psalm 103, written (unsurprisingly) by King David himself. This psalm praises the Lord, tells of his goodness and compassion, and lets its readers know how deeply known and loved we are.

Because I am so excited for us to dive into the simple goodness of these first couple verses, let me give you only a quick note of context. This psalm’s primary purpose is to express David’s fervent devotion, which is clear from the opening lines. One biblical commentary states simply, “it is a most excellent psalm of praise, and of general use”, and I wholeheartedly agree. With that, I believe, it is time to begin.

I hope you will find the message of Psalm 103 as refreshing and satisfying as I did.

Praise the LORD my soul

“¬ĻPraise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. ¬≤Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits–“

Psalm 103:1-2, NIV

“Praise the LORD, oh my soul” is not a contingent statement. God is¬†always good. He is¬†always praiseworthy. He is¬†always righteous and compassionate. There is no “if”, it’s only “because”. There is always a reason to praise the Lord.

When I was still serving on the worship team at my church before moved away to go to school, the worship leader asked me to give an introduction to the song “10,000 Reasons” by Matt Maher. I told the congregation about the same idea I’ve just mentioned to¬†you. The lyrics of the chorus are: “Bless the Lord, oh my soul, oh my soul, worship His holy name.” No conditions. No exceptions. This was only a few months after I lost my dad, so those words really hit home for me. There were moments I didn’t feel like praising the Lord. Moments I didn’t feel like blessing Him. Moments I didn’t feel like telling God how great He was. So I was honest with¬†the church while I was on stage introducing this song. I was real with them because that’s what it means to be a believer.¬†The Bible calls us to praise the Lord, even when we don’t feel like it.

No Conditions. No exceptions.

No conditions. Not, “Praise the Lord if everything is going great”, “Praise the Lord if you’re doing well in school”, or “Praise the Lord when you get a promotion at work”. Praise the Lord, because He is worthy to be praised. He is always worthy. We should always be praising.

No exceptions. Not “Praise the Lord, except if your girlfriend breaks up with you”, “Praise the Lord, except if your kids are sick”, or “Praise the Lord, except if your car breaks down”. Praise the Lord, because He is worthy. It’s really very simple, but we miss the mark all the time.

I think sometimes this is because we’re not sure what it means to praise the Lord. What does it look like exactly? How can I praise the Lord in a way that He will appreciate? Here is an idea based on the verses we read above.

What Does It Look Like to Praise the Lord?

The psalmist in our verses does two things: calls upon his inmost being to praise God and calls upon his soul to remember the good things God is and has done. Let’s use this template as an example for us all.

1. First, tell God how awesome He is and how great His works are.

How many psalms begin or end or somewhere include a statement about how absolutely incredible God is? You can use whatever adjectives or nouns most speak to you about the nature and character of God. “Oh, Lord, You are mighty. You are good. You are my Redeemer.” Pray about what He’s done in your life. “God, You have helped me graduate school; You have given me a good home; You have brought such joy to my life.” Or start simple and praise Him by repeating the exact words above: “God, You are awesome and Your works are great.” He gets what you mean, even if you don’t use very many words to say it.

2. Second, thank God specifically for His plans and provisions.

Pretty self-explanatory, but one of the greatest ways to fill your heart with God’s praise is to thank Him for what He has done. I occasionally pray something similar to this: “God, thank You for your goodness and mercy. Thank You for all you have done, for all You are doing, and for all You are yet to do. I know Your plans are perfect and Your promises are good.” That short prayer alone always shifts my heart to a perspective of praise.

Remember also that there is no wrong way to praise God. A posture of praise is one of humility and of genuineness. You can’t praise the same way any other uniquely created being does. Take some time this week to reflect on when and how you¬†can be praising God. If you want to dive a little deeper, check out this week’s challenge.

Challenge: Write Psalm 103:1-2 down in a journal or even on a scratch piece of paper. Underneath, write your own verses of praise, using the adjectives and nouns that most speak to your heart. BONUS: Share your verses with me here on the blog or email them to me at susannah@wearethelovelyones.com!

And for even more ideas about including God in everyday life, check out last week’s list here! Thanks for sticking around and enjoying the adventure of life that God has given us. ūüôā

Seven Small Ways to Include God in Your Everyday Life (and honest moments about when it’s tough).

This post is a little different from what you’d normally see on my blog, but I thought I’d try something new. Enjoy this short-ish list and then let me know which you like better! Lists of practical tips, or longer, scriptural insights?

We all know that Jesus belongs in every aspect of our life, but including Him¬†every¬†single¬†day can be tougher than it sounds. Life gets busy, we get distracted, and somehow our spiritual well-being falls way too low on the priority list. Because I know this is something we all struggle with, I’ve compiled a small list of seven ways to include God in your everyday living. Before being defeated because you tell yourself you’ll try all seven today and only get to three, set a reasonable goal of one per day. I created this list with that goal in mind because choosing to do one per day gets you through an entire week of including Jesus intentionally! Take a look at what I’ve got for you.

turn off the radio

“O¬†Lord, in¬†the morning you hear my voice…” (Psalm 5:3, NIV).

1. Invite Him to start the day with you.

If you drive to work, turn off the radio on your way to work and thank Him for what is going on in your life. If you don’t, pick something you always do in the morning (brushing your teeth, starting the coffee pot, etc.) and pray during that time. My drive to work is pretty short, but even a few minutes is enough to invite God into your day (He did give you this¬†day to begin with after all!). I like to start with, “Thank you God for this day,” and that helps get me rolling.

Honest moment: Sometimes that’s as far as I get. When I didn’t sleep well the night before, have a ton on my to-do list and little time to do it, or have a stressful meeting coming up, it’s hard to be thankful. But God is still good in this times, and I need to acknowledge that every day, even with a short “Thank you for what You’re doing, even if I don’t love it.”

Set a reminder

“I have stored up your word in my heart…” (Psalm 119:11, ESV).

2. Set a bible app reminder on your phone.

I like to set mine for a time when I know I’ll have a minute to look at the verse that pops up or for a time of day when I get particularly tired or bored, because it’s nice to have something fresh to think about. And I mean really, what better to help refresh you than some scripture? ūüėČ I love this because even if I don’t get around to spending intentional time in my Bible that day, I know I’ve at least been briefly exposed to God’s excellent and inspiring Word.

Honest moment: Though I’m not proud to admit it, more than once the Bible app happily notifies me of my daily scripture, and I grumpily or distractedly ignore it. I’m not always “in the mood” to read the Bible, which is very silly (and very human) of me. That’s part of why I keep those reminders going every day. I know that sometimes I need a little extra push to do what I’m supposed to do and get in the Word.

Pay for someone's coffee

“…God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7, ESV)

3. Pay for the coffee of the person behind you.

Or ice cream, or Taco Bell, or whatever. That small act of generosity helps keep us grounded in the fact that God has been marvelously generous with us, and we should spread it. The person with whom you share a small piece of the resources God has gifted you with probably won’t know or care why you did it, but they will certainly benefit and appreciate it. (Or at least that’s how I always feel being on the receiving end.) You also never know what that small act of kindness can do for someone who might be experiencing a bad day, a rough time in life, or a stressful schedule.

Honest moment: It can be awkward, and a little nerve-wracking. Sometimes I’m guilty of thoughts like, “What if they happened to have had a huge, expensive order?” “What if they think it’s weird or are somehow offended?” “Shouldn’t I spend my money on more important things?” Then I’m convicted, and then I’m reminded: God will take care of me just as well after I give some of His goodness away as He did when I was keeping it to myself.

practice kindness

“Be kind and compassionate to one another…” (Ephesians 4:32, NIV).

4. Practice kindness instead of anger when someone makes a mistake.

Every day we run into someone or something that frustrates us. Someone makes a mistake, bumps into us, doesn’t do something even though we reminded them several times. So how do we practice kindness in those situations instead of immediately berating this person? A practical way I’ve learned to do this is by intentionally saying, “It’s okay.” Say it right away, even before your frustration subsides. Practicing kindness will help your anger fade. You could also think of it as flexing your patience muscle. The more you work on it, the bigger your capacity for patience will be.

Honest moment: I’ve been practicing this recently because I’ve realized my frustration with my husband is (sometimes) totally uncalled for. I let him know that it’s okay, even if I’m still upset because it’s also good for both of us to know that it’s okay to be upset. He has been caught off-guard by my immediate “It’s okay” (usually followed by “I love you”, because that’s important for him to know when I’m upset too). The fact that he’s surprised by patience instead of frustration obviously means I need to practice it more, but he always expresses his appreciation for those little words: “It’s okay.”

Do YourBest

5. Do your best at whatever you’re doing.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord…” (Colossians 3:23, NIV).

Your boss, your kids, your professor, they don’t have to know your best is for God. If you make a conscious effort to be the best employee, the best mom, and the best student, and people will probably notice. This gives you an opportunity to share about Jesus (when appropriate) but more importantly sets you apart from the average Joe or Jane. God has called us to be a holy people, set apart for a better purpose, and sometimes this plays out in everyday life just by doing your best. God notices too, and I’m pretty sure it brings a smile to His face (though, I can’t confirm that).

Honest moment: Sometimes I know that if I put in just a little less effort than my best, nobody will really notice (especially as a college student, am I right?). If I use the word “said” my essay too many times instead of taking the extra time to edit and use a thesaurus, it probably won’t affect my grade¬†that much. But it does. It matters. And part of this is because every time I let myself do a little less than my best I slip a little more down the slope of being comfortably adequate, instead of being the exceptional being God intended. Do your best. It matters.

pray for the small things (2)

 

“…pray continually…” (1 Thessalonians 5:17, NIV).

6. Pray for the little things. Even silly ones.

Traffic was super bad the other day and finding parking for an event became very stressful. After 10 minutes of the stress and craziness, I just said, “Okay, God. If you could help this to calm down soon that would be great.” I kid you not we turned the corner and there was an open parking spot. Caleb and I thanked the Lord for His provision and went on our merry way. Even the smallest prayers are heard because He is always listening! Does this mean He says yes to every one of them? No.¬†I’ve prayed for green lights, football teams to win, and packages to arrive on time, and sometimes lights stay red, teams lose, and packages are late. The point is asking God for help in every situation means you’re showing Him that you have faith with the small stuff, so when it comes to the big stuff, you’re practicing a really important habit.

Honest moment: It is important to note that some of these prayers are selfish, which is probably why He doesn’t always answer those silly ones. However, as mentioned above, I am working on forming a habit. God cares about every aspect of our lives. If I include Him when I’m driving by asking for a green light, I will also be more likely to include Him when asking for patience instead of responding with road rage when someone cuts me off. The second thing helps me act a little more Christ-like as a driver and the first one just makes my life a little more convenient, but both lead me back to Him because I asked for help in the first place.

thankful

“Give thanks to the¬†Lord,¬†for he is good…” (Psalm 107:1, NIV).

7. Thank God for the small ways He is working.

Like that front row parking spot or the short line at Starbucks. Thank Him for the fact that your car works. For comfortable clothes. For working electricity. For every small detail that makes your life function. He is in control of the universe and is a good God to allow us to have the things we do. I once heard something like this: If you knew that tomorrow you would only have what you were grateful for today, how much more would you be thankful? Though I don’t think you should go overboard and run around the house thanking God and checking things off to make sure you have it all tomorrow, it does bring up a good point. God could choose to radically change your life at any moment. Being thankful now prepares you for what He could choose to do later.

Honest moment:¬†In light of the statement I shared about only having what we were thankful for today, I confess that a younger, immature version of myself occasionally used to say “Thank you for everything” just to be covered. I have since learned that 1) This statement holds no legitimate¬†power over my life, and 2) That being intentionally thankful for certain things instead of a blanket statement of gratefulness is actually better for spiritual growth. I have even started learning to be thankful for trials, though somewhat begrudgingly, and it is a practice that has helped me immensely.

 

So, nearly 1800 words later…Did you read the entire list? What did you think? I hope you found some small way to include Jesus in your life today, and I hope you enjoyed my honest (if somewhat embarrassing) comments about how I live these out in my own life. Enjoy living life for Jesus today and come back next week for another dose of the goodness of God. ūüôā