I begin with a prayer:
“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:14-21)
Many years ago a friend of mine was years into a serious and chronic illness that continues today. Each of us can understand why she would struggle with negativity. She was disappointed with herself when she allowed negativity to have a prominent place in her life. Our family daily prayed for her and her family. One day I encouraged her to open her Bible to the last pages that were usually blank and begin listing her blessings, one by one. She could do one a day, or as many as she liked, adding to them as she thought of them.
The exercise was not a permanent fix to her bouts of discouragement, but it was a place to return to. A list like this speaks truth and blessing upon our lives. Today my friend’s health has not improved, in truth, her physical struggles have increased. The world may not see her as an overcomer, but I do as do those that know her best. I am thankful for her friendship and I am in awe at times by the ways she reaches out to encourage others.
Many years ago I was interceding through prayer for a woman that I did not know. Her situation was so incredibly difficult that I felt “sick in my gut.” Yes. I know; that is so indelicate, but most of you will know exactly how that feels. A wise friend reminded me: This woman that is suffering so has grace for that and you do not. In other words, we have grace for the trials in our lives. We truly do. When we feel empathy for another, we bear their burden with prayer and help as God prompts. I never forgot that. I have grace for my trials and you have grace for yours!
That grace, God’s grace, is extended to the person suffering. God ordained the ways the world should work and He is able to overcome all obstacles and often uses us to do so. Ultimately though, it is all about His grace. We must learn to grab hold of it and not let go.
We are strong; we are fearfully and wonderfully made, (Psalms 139:14) and yet we can be meek and humble. Let us not allow humility, perhaps false humility to prevent us from what we are called to do.
Ahem; I speak to myself here as much as to anyone.
It is in gratitude or thankfulness, in truth, that we can overcome negativity. Be humble, but be thankful, for surely God has gifted each of us uniquely and divinely with perfect wisdom. In Christ, we have enough and we are enough.
If you are struggling with negativity, begin a list and count your blessings, one by one. There is no better time of year to step up our thanksgiving. Let it begin now and continue as a way of life. You may find your life transformed by this practice.
I will share six things I am thankful for today:
- I begin with thankfulness that God drew me unto Himself, but that He did not stop there. I am thankful for the discipleship that began many years after I ask Jesus to save me, to take me to Heaven. It is in the discipleship that I learned to understand and trust my salvation.
- I will always be thankful for my marriage. It was not what I had planned, but it was where I learned to know and love God in a personal way. Because of Harry and the life we led, my children know God personally and are doing a better job parenting than I did. I am reminded; God’s thoughts are higher than mine.
- I am thankful for the home I grew up in. Not perfect, but when I left I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Bible was perfect. That is a solid foundation for discipleship.
- I am thankful for the struggles of life, for they have helped me to grow in wisdom and empathy. I am thankful for the struggles God allowed in my life because they have been for a purpose and for my good. Knowing this helps me to carry on.
- I am thankful to have been born into a family that honoured traditions and made memories on purpose. Thanksgiving was usually held at our home and I remember the glorious tables connected through two long rooms, with a smaller table for the children. My mother worked for days making everything special for this celebration. I also remember the Thanksgiving when the kitchen chairs were being recovered and did not arrive until about an hour before lunch. (Little bit of stress there!) I remember the Thanksgiving when a big and mean rooster knocked my baby brother down and pecked him, all this while my mother was trying to keep everything nice.
- I am thankful for the happy memories; they surely help to lessen the ones that were not so great.
Thankfulness is a great tool for overcoming negativity. It is not the only tool in my arsenal. I will share the most important with you.
- Slap a smile on your face and keep it there until it feels like it belongs there.
- Avoid sharing all your griefs with people. Instead, encourage them!
- Make a memory, on purpose. Plan something and then follow through. It may be as simple as deciding to drive to the coast to see a rocket launch. Or walking up a mountain to see the sunset.
- Avoid excess sugar or avoid it altogether. It has no nutritional value. It is a killer of the body and spirit. It gives you a high, then pushes you off a cliff. As I’ve aged, I find that too much coffee is a downer too.
- Call a friend you are thankful for just to check on them. I plan to make at least one call today.
- Get dressed in the morning. I always try to be presentable for myself. When something unexpected happens and I have to dash out, I am less harried.
- Socialise! We were created for fellowship and sometimes it takes an effort if you tend to be a bit of a loner, as – believe it or not – I am. If you socialise regularly then being alone will be a pleasant thing.
- Take a short walk and talk to God the whole time. My intention is to tell God of the many things I am thankful for, but I usually end up asking for some things too.
- Write a note to someone that you are thankful for. You may never get a response, but you did not do it for that reason. Trust me, if you make a habit of sending a note a day to someone, you will yield a harvest.
- Maintain your home. Spiritually speaking, we were meant to be keepers of the home. If we are not fulfilling that calling we will feel negativity because it is a God-given calling, but also, who wants to live in a place that is dirty and unkempt? I keep my home reasonably clean and tidy. If it suits me, I will not be mortified if someone should stop in.
Let me wrap this up with a question. Are your expectations too high or unreasonable? This applies to your expectations for yourself or for others.
Plan to have a happy and thankful Thanksgiving, but then let life happen because there is little we can do to prevent it.
The chairs that arrived at the last moment really upset my mother as she was trying to pull together a very large meal in a beautiful way, but truthfully we laughed about those chairs arriving at the last minute and the lessons this taught me are great. My brother Eddie was muddied from the rooster getting him on the ground, but he was not hurt, however the rooster disappeared shortly after!
Cheerfulness sharpens the edge and removes the rust from the mind. A joyous heart supplies oil to our inward machinery, and makes the whole of our powers work with ease and efficiency; hence it is of the utmost importance that we maintain a contented, cheerful, genial disposition. James H. Aughey. (A southern minister during Civil War times that was brutally jailed for his beliefs about freedom and sympathies to the Union Army.)
We are entering a season of holidays, when we especially enjoy the soft glow of candles. Candles are special and they mark special occasions. Especially since having grandchildren I have come to really like battery operated candles. Some of them are amazingly realistic and if you are after a glow, it is adequate. Safety first.
Candles, I love them. I want to share some facts, some opinions with you about them.
Better candles are better for you and your family. Cheap candles are often made of paraffin, which is a byproduct of coal, petroleum and oil shale. Chemicals are added to it and paraffin pollutes the air. Paraffin candles are full of known allergens, but just as importantly they are a greater fire hazard because of their ingredients.
Beeswax candles may seem to be more costly but they burn longer. Ordering them directly from a beekeeper is practical and extremely budget friendly. Beeswax candles clean the air.
Beeswax candles tend to being dripless and slow-burning. Many years ago I did have a table catch fire, momentarily, with a taper gone wrong. Hot parafin wax dripped on a table is more likely to catch fire than a beeswax candle because of the ingredients. We learn; we do things differently. We can enjoy candles if we use them wisely.
I do not know much about soy candles. I would use them if they were given as a gift, but I would hesitate to use with guests. Many people have allergies to soy; I am leary to put it into the air. I have one now that smells great and is in a beautiful dish, but I generally burn it when I am alone.
Who does not love a scented candle? Well; you’d be surprised. Many do not. I generally prefer unscented, particularly if the scent may compete with the smells of a delicious dinner. There are exceptions. I like a scented home, but candles are not my first choice.
When using a taper candle we don’t want it to topple from the candlestick. There are rubber guards (rings) you can place at the bottom of a candle to make it fit snugly into the holder, but another idea is to heat the bottom with a match or lighter so it soften the wax. Then push it into the holder. This will help it to “stay put.”
I read somewhere that most all candle fires could be avoided by:
- Never leaving a burning candle unattended. When you leave the dinner table, extinguish those candles.
- Keep candles away from children and rambunctious pets.
- Don’t burn a candle on or near anything that might catch fire. (Curtains definitely an issue. Perhaps put candle-holders on a metal tray. Use a bobeche, which is a candle ring or collar placed at the bottom of a candle to catch wax.)
I marvel when I think that people put live candles on Christmas trees at one time. Had to have been disasters or near disasters. We can enjoy candles in greater safety than ever with some forethought and care. May your days be merry and bright!