Posts Tagged ‘gratitude’

leading from behind…

We carried them.

Then they began to wobble forward.

Next, they grabbed our hands as we ran together.fallersons

Now – they run ahead.

It can be easy to feel like my job is done, but any parent will be quick to remind – we’ve still only just begun.  Walking is not the goal…just another part of the journey.  I love to watch them wander through the woods.  To watch them play, and see the sparks of wonder inspire flames of imagination.  It’s fulfilling, to offer them the ability to lead as we take to the forest, and see them choose paths both winding and well-defined.

There are so many pressures today to grow the next generation of world-changers.  To mold them into products that are marketable on the future economies of skill and value competitions.  To form them into athletic renaissance machines that can out-perform the others and shine in ways that obviously deserve scholarship money.

I’ll confess – I’m not immune to this.  Even in realms of spiritual maturity, there are major parts of me that want my kids to shine with the love of Jesus.  Not for healthy reasons, but to show the world – here, is a product I’ve helped create and offer my fellow humanity as proof of my/our worth.

So every once in a while, on purpose, I slow down.  I watch.  I absorb their wonder.  I stop measuring things and start inefficiently using time with them.  Another confession – I don’t do this enough.  I’m busy.  I’m a student.  I’m a pastor.  I’m a husband.  I’m a ________.

All of that to say – I hadn’t said anything much about parenting in a while, and this was originally a parenting blog. 🙂  So I figured I would remind the reader – I’m still a parent.   I’m not winning any awards, but my kids seem to be increasing in love.  My wife and better half probably deserves a TON of that credit, as she gets the most time at home with them.  But I’ll take a little.  And I’ll watch them run ahead with her, and pause to be thankful for it all..

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Gratefulness…

Another year’s Christmas-ing has come and gone. All of the Adventing, Jesse-Tree-ing,decorating, and anticipation culminating in a giant smattering of presents to open, meals to enjoy, and time with family/friends. Christ has arrived, and therefore things are incredibly different in God-filled ways.

This year, our girls each received one “large item” from Saint Nick (though I’m pretty sure our oldest is beginning to understand all may not be as it appears). They LOVE their gifts, and proudly announced to the entire church as they walked through the halls that next Sunday morning: “I got a violin!!!” “I got a Kindle!” “I got an iPad!!” I’m sure no one paid any attention, but in my head it was “Oh really? You’re family in the midst of raising funds for an adoption was able to stack up quite a Christmas, eh?”

Not that it’s on me to defend, I will explain because I find it humorous…

Yes, we got a child’s violin for $50 off Craigslist. Yes, we got a “reading only” economy version of a Kindle on E-bay. Yes, we got a VTech play-learning device that Ruby refers to as her “iPad”.  I realize compared to most of the world, we are ridiculously wealthy.

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Nevertheless, I’m really excited how joyful my girls get over “little things”. You should’ve seen how long they spent pouring over the cheap candy in their stockings, even as giant wrapped packages waited under the tree.  I hope and pray we can retain this sense of gratitude even (and especially) as they grow older. Our world certainly is quick to point out things you don’t have, or upgrades you need to make. I’ve been reading Gordie Howe’s autobiography recently, “Mr.Hockey”, and it’s pretty incredible to read how he grew up in a very limited home and time – yet was incredibly thankful for all the things he had.

“Comparison Living” is something that increases more and more with every new social media app that’s invented. Even if we’re aware of it, and try not to be impacted by it, we cannot help but subconsciously be aware of things that exist, that we desire. Things/events other people enjoy, that we’d like to enjoy.

There are enough blogs and books already out there to help you combat this illness, I don’t intend to write long on it today. But as a parent, I want to protect my children from being carried away by this for sure. Which means having “The Talk” about it, even at the ages they currently are. It means helping point out the great things we have to be thankful for, even in the midst of not having something we’ve been praying a couple years for already. It means pointing out what God is doing in and through your family, even when miracles don’t seem to be happening this week.

This flows out and impacts so many areas of life, but begins right here – by developing parental hearts of gratitude. Becoming an adult who recognizes and practices how to be thankful today. My children will learn it best when they see mommy and daddy practicing it regularly. That’s something my wife constantly reminds us of, and seems to have understood long before I did.

So how does thankfulness impact the life you’re living this week? Will you allow a heart made grateful by God to set you free from “comparison living”, at least somewhat? 🙂 The next generation depends on us passing on the rich inheritance of contentedness…

Where to start??

You’ve probably heard the exclamation, “jumpin’ Jehosaphat!”  But you might be about as familiar with him as you are with John Jacob Jingle-Heimer-Schmidt (na na na na na na na!!!!).  There’s much more to Jehoshaphat than a silly saying, however.  Check out 2 Chronicles 20:1-17 to read the beginning of a pretty cool story that happened to him…(I’ll wait, while you read.)

Before heading into the battle, we find in verse 21:  “After talking it over with the people, Jehoshaphat appointed a choir for God; dressed in holy robes, they were to march ahead of the troops, singing, Give thanks to God, His love never quits.”

It’s an important reminder to us to be people to head into situations where we must depend on God (i.e. all of life) with thankfulness. Thankfulness not for His performance, not for His actions, not for His favor….but for His LOVE.8743534855_014ae9b4c4_o

In this story, we know what ends up happening: Several armies all ended up converging at the same time in their pursuit of God’s people, and became confused as they met. They all attacked and killed one another. When God’s people arrived to what they assumed would be a battlefield, they came upon bloody masses of bodies that had been killed in a giant battle. God’s Word had proven faithful.

Certainly everyone there was thankful. It took 3 days for them to collect all of the treasures, weapons and supplies from the fallen armies. They entered Jerusalem and went to the temple with harps and lyres and trumpets. The fear of God came on all surrounding kingdoms….etc. It was an important victory, to be sure.

But what I want to point out today is the scripture we hear quoted all the time. Verse 21 – “Give thanks to the Lord, his love endures forever.” The memorable moment of how thankful God’s people are comes not after the victory (although there was plenty of celebrating), but before it.

What are you trusting God for these days? What insurmountable obstacle lies before you? What conflict does there seem to be no resolution for? What do you want to happen, and feel God desires it, but you have no idea where the resources will come from?  This adoption journey has definitely been one for us.  Both the financial aspects of raising money (you can still give if you’d like!), and even more-so the period of unknown waiting for a referral.

We don’t all have a Jahaziel (the prophet who spoke to encourage Jehosaphat and his people) telling us God will fight the battle for us. To assume that would be to rip this out of context and give us license to try anything. But it does give us a great model to follow. Whatever direction we travel, and whatever obstacle seems to be in the way – we should lead/begin our journeys with declaring our thankfulness to God. We are thankful for His Love, that endures forever.  For us, it’s a great reminder that even more than we desire to bring home a daughter who needs a family – it’s all meaningless if in that process we forget or reduce how important God’s love for US is as well.

No matter where our journey takes us…we have so much to be thankful for…and that is the foot we lead with. May your life discover new victories in Christ as you do so…

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