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Entries in Gratitude (2)

Monday
Aug242015

Summer is fading

Technically, summer isn't over, but it's fading. The autumn equinox isn't until September 23rd, but the evenings are getting shorter, and it's almost dark when I get up at 6:00 in the morning. My husband and I were out biking recently, and we could see how things are changing. The soybeans are turning; the oats have been harvested; and some of the trees closest to the road are actually turning at the upper branches. I love late summer.

This was a good summer for many reasons.

Good visits. We have been able to spend time with the kids fairly often this summer, gathering for meals together. They all came home to celebrate the July birthdays. It was fun to hear them in their grandparents' pool, playing and laughing. It brought a lot of joy to my mother-in-law, and that made me happy, too.

Good television viewing. Discovered two new shows: The Crimson Field, which is about nurses in World War I, Wolf Hall which is about Thomas Cromwell and his dealings with Henry VIII. What would I do without PBS?

Good recipes. I discovered two really excellent recipes. One is chick peas with rice. There are so many ways one could change this recipe up. I cooked my rice with vegetable broth and on another occasion, I used regular brown rice rather than basmati rice. It makes enough for my husband and I to have a meal, and then for me to have lunch leftovers. Another excellent recipe was a pork tenderloin crock pot recipe. The sauce the pork is cooked in has soya sauce, mustard, garlic, and maple syrup in it. It was so easy, and the meat was very tender. I served it once with a combination of roasted white potatoes and sweet potatoes. 

Good friends. We had a visit from friends who started out as "internet friends." But we've met on a few occasions, and we're real and true friends. We ate food, laughed, talked, and played games. It was a visit which was much too short. 

Good games. I had never played Apples to Apples before. What a hoot! I don't where this game has been all my life. My husband and I have also been playing backgammon a lot. It's the one game where I can trounce him. He generally trounces me in every game we play, but this one is different. We have some knock down drag out victories, and it's lots of fun.

Good books. I have read a few books over the summer, and hands down, the best of them is Ed Welch's Running Scared. This is more than a book about counseling people with fear and anxiety. It is a reminder that we are residents of the kingdom of God. That's a huge life changing thing. This good book was read with another good friend. Co-incidentally, she is also someone who began as an internet friend. We've been friend for ten years. When we realized that, it was kind of hard to believe. I have also been able to get to know her lovely daughters, and that has been a treat.

Good news. After conferring with my doctor, I was given the go ahead to try drinking regular tea and coffee. I take medication for GERD, and its under control. We're contemplating going off the meds in the fall to see how that goes, but I am loving being able to eat things I had not really had since the end of 2014.

I'm looking forward to another good visit, this time with me heading west in September. I can't wait to see the big sky in Saskatchewan. That will be added to my list of good things this summer. And as always, whatever season we're in, and whatever circumstance we're in, we are so blessed to have a good God. There are no words to say just how good He is.

What was good about your summer?

Tuesday
Sep022014

Compared to what?

What do you take for granted? 

  • You got up this morning and walked to the bathroom.
  • You made your own coffee.
  • You were able to pack a lunch for your husband or child.
  • You cleaned your own toilet.
  • You opened up your refrigerator and there was food in it.
  • When the car needed repair, your husband found a good mechanic to do the job.
  • You had to stand in line for thirty minutes to pay for your two pairs of shoes.

Do you know people who would love to have the joy of doing such mundane things? I do. I know people who would love nothing more than to be able to walk their dog, or to clean up a mess in their home. I know people who would love to have more than one pair of shoes. I think we often forget that not everyone lives like we do.

Compared to what?

When I was a teenager, I spent a lot of time with my aunt and uncle. They were extremely poor when they got married. They relied on the contents of my aunt's garden and the availability of deer meat. I learned a lot about doing without from them. When I would complain about my lot in life, my uncle would say, "Compared to what?" At the time, in my youth, I didn't really like it. Now, I get why he asked me that.

I understand that just because there is something worse that could happen it doesn't mean that our present pain isn't real. But as a Christian, I'm not to wallow in my circumstances. Understanding that things could be worse is a way to direct myself to what I can be thankful for. God is good, and there is always something to thank him for. God's goodness doesn't mean that everything goes our way. 

We often compare ourselves to other women. Have you noticed that we seldom compare ourselves to someone who has it worse than we do? We look longingly at that woman who seems to have everything we would want. How often is it the woman with a physical disability? or the woman whose huband left her? or the woman who has a rebellious child? or the woman who is sick from chemotherapy treatments? 

Squash that dissatisfaction

I know people who live with serious circumstances. Their example often silences my complaining, although not nearly enough. I know women for whom those mundane activities are a challenge, or an impossibility. God is good in giving me friends who live differently than I do, because these people help me see outside of myself. When I am tempted to grumble about the mess my husband left behind, I should be mindful that there are some women who would love to have a messy husband to care for. When I miss my children and complain about it, I should think about my friend whose son's life was cut short by a car accident at the age of 17.

Comparing ourselves to other women stems from dissatisfaction with our own life and a failure to see God's goodness. Comparing often leads to complaining, and when we're complaining, we are so busy uttering words of dissatisfaction that we do not use words of gratitude. Comparison and complaint drown out thoughts of gratitude. Interestingly, some of the people who complain the loudest are those with the least need to, and some of the most vocal sounds of thanksgiving come from those in the direst of circumstances.

Day by Day

I love the song "Day by Day," especially these words:

He Whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best—
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

Many years ago, a friend of mine, now deceased, shared his love for this song. He shared it in the context of expressing his thankfulness to God that he had leukemia, because it was the means of his mother's salvation. I've never forgotten that occasion.

God does give us what he deems best on a daily basis. What's best for you is not what's best for me. I have done nothing to deserve what I have, and the one with health issues has done nothing to earn her situation. The comparison begins when we don't like what we're given and instead look to demand what he's given someone else. When we feel discontent, we need to look to God, to his goodness, and to his Son, the ultimate expression of goodness to us.