There's Plenty to be Thankful For
Often on Thanksgiving, if I get a chance, I will watch Holiday Inn. It's the musical Irving Berlin wrote before White Christmas, and contains several of the same songs. Near the end of the movie, Bing Crosby (why don't they make actors like that anymore?) sings a song about being thankful called "I've Got Plenty to be Thankful For." In it, he ends up making fun of some of the things listed in the song, but deep down, he knows it's true. How often are we less than thankful for the simple things, such as ears to hear with, a mouth to speak with, etc.? We have this one day a year set aside to be thankful and many of us can't even spend the whole day doing that. But in the last year, I've worked harder to be more thankful in my prayers. I try to make sure I thank God for more than I ask for. And it's definitely changed my outlook. So, on this day of thankfulness, I challenge you. Find something every hour to be thankful for. It doesn't have to be big. And then carry that attitude through the rest of the year. In a season that can tend towards selfishness and commercialism, let's show grateful hearts. Who knows? It might catch on.
The Wrong Whisper
"And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper." I Kings 19:11-12
God is in the whisper. At least, He was in the passage above, where He revealed Himself to Elijah. And in the chaos of the world, it's easy to miss the whispers. We're surrounded by noise constantly.
But there's another issue, too. Because someone else likes to whisper as well, and confuses us with which whispers to listen to.
The other day, I had some criticism come my way. And my pride was hurt. I was upset because I had done the task and still got reprimanded for not doing it. And I started listening to whispers that said things like, "Well, maybe this wasn't such a blessing from God because look at all the extra stress and frustration it's brought. Maybe I should give up this other thing I love because I obviously can't handle more my life right now. Maybe I should go do this other insane idea because it's plain this one isn't working like it should. Maybe ..." And a million other ridiculous things ran through my head. But when I stopped and prayed, truly prayed instead of just throwing up a few words in the heat of the moment, I could hear the truth. Sometimes, my pride gets the best of me and thinks things are worse than they really are. Sometimes, I need to take a step back and remember the person who had texted me was more a messenger than a judge and would be on my side when we could talk face-to-face the next day. And jumping to a million conclusions about all that other stuff only made my stress worse. And sure, enough, the next day all was worked out and the truth was revealed. I had worked myself up into a tizzy over almost nothing.
God whispers peace. Satan whispers turmoil and discontent. I'd much rather listen to God's whispers, wouldn't you? Have you ever listened to the wrong whisper instead of listening for the one that was better?
Potatoes are one of my husband's favorite foods. He'll eat them pretty much any way but in a salad. I also go to potatoes when looking for a comfort food. My children ... are weird and have decided they don't like spuds. This means we don't go through them quite as quickly as we have in times past. And since I usually buy the 10-pound bags at Aldi, where they're the cheapest, every now and then we have some rather sad-looking potatoes by the end of the pack.
Have you ever peeled an old potato? Not only are they usually covered in tubers, sprouting out all over, searching for dirt to dig down into so they can form more potatoes. They're also rather wrinkly, with flaking skins and rough spots over the bruises. The "meat" of the spud itself isn't firm anymore, but has become a bit softer. Trying to peel around all these obstacles is no easy feat.
I had just opened a bag of potatoes a few weeks ago and was peeling some. And it hit me how easily the skins came off, how there weren't many spots to work around or cut out, how the insides were nice and firm and easy to handle and slice. And I started thinking about people. We can be like potatoes, too. And I don't mean cooked just about any way you can think of. I'm talking about more. When we're young Christians, we're firm in our faith, we're blemish-free, and we haven't let the world around us creep in to start rotting places in our lives. But as we mature, sometimes we end up like the old potatoes, our skins flaking and rough, our rough patches showing, possibly even slightly rotten with a squishy faith. You know what. God can cut out the bad spots and still use us, even if we're like that old potato. It will still cook up nicely. And God's willing to peel around the obstacles if we'll just let Him.
What do you think? Which potato do you most resemble?
Just What We Need
As happens so often in life, I thought this year we could get ahead. When I took this position as a preschool teacher, I decided we'd put at least half my salary in savings to build it back up, and increase our contributions each week, and maybe have that needed cushion each month so we wouldn't have to draw from our savings like we had been.
God had other plans.
Right after I was hired, our alternator died. It had to be replaced. Thanks to the new job, we had most of the money needed for that big expense.
Okay. so this next month we'll put some aside ...
No. Then, the pump for the power steering fluid died. We drove around several weeks with our van making funny noises and the steering wheel a little harder to turn than normal. Then, we used my paychecks to fix that.
Nope. We need new tires.
I could sit down and cry over this, bemoan the fact that my plans to save money never work. I could worry and fret and wonder if we'll ever be able to live more comfortably than month-to-month. But I'm not going to.
God has opened my eyes to see the truth of this situation. You see, I thought He had given me this opportunity to bring in more money to save up for the future.
Instead, He knew everything that was about to happen and that we needed a cushion. And He gave us just what we needed.
And I'm okay with that. Despite how often He has made sure we have what we need plus some extra, I still struggle with remembering to trust that He will continue to do so. I'm a work in progress, but I'm trying.
What about you? Were there times you forgot God always takes care of us? Was there sometime He gave you just what you needed before you even realized you would?
If you've been following me long, you know I have fallen in love with Autumn MacArthur's stories ... and with her as I've gotten to know her some over the last year, too. Not only is she in the middle of co-authoring a series about romances starting later in life, her own did, too. But not the way you might have expected. She's here to tell us some of her story today in our Real Life Romance segment. Read on. You'll be blessed.
When Amy asked me if I would write a post for her Real Life Romance, series, my immediate response was to say "What romance?" Our love story is far from a happily-ever-after fairy tale romance! My husband, who is on the autistic spectrum, doesn’t do any of the hearts and flowers stuff I once longed for.
You know the saying, “Marry in haste, repent at leisure”? That exactly describes our relationship. Both never-married, both close to 40, we rushed into an engagement soon after meeting. Then I had doubts and tried to break up several times during our engagement. Even though I’d backslidden and was far away from God, every time, a nudge from Him sent me back. God kept reminding me that this was the man He’d chosen for me. And I knew that was true. I loved him with an irrational, soul-deep love.
My fiance told me about his physically disabling health condition. I could deal with that. He told me he had PTSD. I figured I could deal with that, too. But I only found out after we’d married that he’d been drinking heavily to pass as “normal” and to cover up severe anxiety, both at his job and with me. Our early marriage mostly consisted of arguing a lot, ugly and hurtful arguments, and then making up afterward.
Not blaming him for this. The arguments were equally as much my fault. My lack of understanding of his issues and why he couldn’t meet my needs in the way I wanted them met made things worse. Most of the time, I instigated or escalated the rows. All of the time, I held resentment toward him in my heart for not being the man I wanted.
Then one day, he announced he’d decided to stop drinking. Going cold turkey, he did. Married life would get easier when the drinking stopped, right?
Nope! Once he stopped drinking, things became worse. The mental health problems his drinking had disguised surfaced. He wasn’t able to work any more, so I became household breadwinner. How I resented that! And I let it show. God might have planned this husband for me, but he was not the man I wanted. Bitterness and anger ate away at my love. I didn’t feel loved, and I certainly didn’t feel loving.
Then God blessed me with a chronic illness. It took some time, for sure. At first, I just became more resentful. But God is patient, and He doesn’t give up on us. He used my illness to teach me so many lessons. To understand my husband’s health problems and his autism better. To stop trying to change him (okay, maybe that should be - to stop trying to change him quite so much!). To lean on God for my needs, not to keep complaining I didn’t have a husband I could lean on. To surrender the anger and resentment to Him. To see the ways my husband expresses his love for me every single day, in acts of service rather than romantic words, extravagant gifts, and bunches of flowers.
Most of all, to open my heart to God’s love for me, and let it fill all the holes where anger and resentment had lurked. Only then could I begin to love the way God loves us - unconditionally, abundantly, and truly. We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19 NIV)
Our marriage will never be an Instagrammable one. Doing the dishes and taking out the trash and collecting my meds from the pharmacy isn’t picture perfect pretty stuff. But it’s real and it’s solid and it’s deep, and it’s rooted in God. And that makes all the difference.
Autumn Macarthur is a USA Today bestselling author of clean Christian inspirational romances with a strong touch of faith. If you love happy-ever-afters, sweet romance, and Hallmark movies, chances are you’ll enjoy her stories! They show the power of God’s love to heal even the most damaged heart.
Originally from Sydney, Australia, she now lives in a small town not far from London, England, with her husband (aka The Cat Magnet), and way too many rescue cats for their tiny house! You can visit her at her website http://faithhopeandheartwarming.com and on Facebook as Autumn Macarthur. She’d love to hear from you!
Four sweet and clean Christian romances to warm your heart this holiday season! Snuggle up with these faith-filled stories of hope and love, celebrating the true meaning of Christmas. Visit London for a series of Christmas dates, experience New Year’s Eve in Edinburgh, fall in love all over again in lake-side Idaho, and discover home and healing in small-town Oregon, all within the pages of these complete and standalone romances. If you love Hallmark movies, Love Inspired Books, and happy-ever-afters, chances are the Together for Christmas collection will encourage, uplift, and inspire you!
Book 1: Believe in Me (Love in Store series)
When Nick Gallagher, the Hollywood actor playing the store's celebrity Santa challenges accountant Cara to a series of dates as a Christmas dare, can the Christmas-hating accountant overcome her painful past and rediscover love, joy and faith? A heartwarming reminder of the importance of believing in God's promises. Novel-length.
Book 2: A Model Bride (The Macleans series)
Christmas in London, New Year's Eve in Edinburgh, where next? Nothing in her Europe trip goes as Tiffany Gallagher planned, but when she meets wounded Scottish photo-journalist Mac while volunteering at a homeless shelter, she discovers God's purpose for her life is far more than she imagined! Novel length.
Book 3: Calm & Bright (Huckleberry Lake series)
Will Brad and Maddie let God use a Christmas together for the sake of their son to help them rediscover the love that led to their whirlwind romance, and overcome the issues that caused their divorce? Even Maddie's matchmaking grandmother and their adorable four year old might not be enough to help them reunite! Longer novella length.
Book 4: His Healing Touch (Sweetapple Falls)
Are some wounds too deep for love to heal? When grieving nurse Lainie Sullivan encounters Adam, a wounded warrior and her ex-patient, in a small Oregon town at Christmas, only trusting in God's goodness can heal both their wounds and free them to love. Short novel length - a revised and significantly extended version of the story previously published as Love's Healing Touch in the First Street Church Kindle Worlds. The new edition is available for the first time in this set.
Interested in reading more? Check it out here.
Since sleep-training my daughter, we've pretty much tried to stick to the same schedule each evening. We put on pajamas, brush teeth, and then do our family Bible time. After praying together, and giving hugs, my husband and I take turns putting the children to bed. One will tuck in our daughter, the other our son, and then the next night we switch.
Once they're in bed, we sing one more song and then give a hug and kiss and turn off the light with the hopes that they'll actually stay in bed and go to sleep. The song we started out always singing was "Jesus Loves Me." In the last few months, my son decided he was tired of that one and wanted "Jesus Loves the Little Children" instead. My daughter picked up on it and then gave us another twist. She wanted to sing "Jesus Rose for all the Children." It's actually a verse of "Jesus Loves the Little Children," but we don't tell her it's not a whole song so that we don't have to sing more than we have to when trying to get her to sleep.
Now, you may think that she tired of that trend after a few days and went back to something else. Nope. In fact, now both kids want that verse of the song almost every time. And the more I thought about it, the more I thought, well, it is probably the most important verse. Or at least the one that sums up the hope that comes with it. Yes. Him loving us is what spurred on the decision to go with God's plan to die for us. And we needed those. But without Him rising from the grave, His death would be meaningless. And I will forever be in awe of it all.
Do you sometimes feel like God gives us children to help us remember to be in awe of Him and His plan? We're supposed to be like the little children, after all. How can we do that without examples around? They definitely know how to find the most important things and latch on, don't they?
This is a place for me to share thoughts and ideas not just related to writing. Thoughts about what's going on in my life, about an idea I got that I thought shareworthy, or just a funny anecdote.