God’s Gift To Us When We Give Thanks

Join me today over at Raising Generations Today.

God has so much more for us through our thanksgiving. Wouldn’t you think that thanksgiving should be all for God? Me, too. However, God . . . (Read more here.)

When We’re More Focused on Next than Now

I spend a lot of time focused on NEXT rather than NOW. My thoughts are toward the next thing that I need to do: When I finish this, I’ll begin that.

After I drop her off, I need to run to the grocery store because we’re out of bread.
While he’s with the tutor, I’ll finish making those calls.
I think I can finish that report when the kids go to bed.

Planning is helpful and wise—but not at the expense of missing the purpose of the present. God is moving right now. He wants us to experience him now—to know he is real and living. He wants to bless and encourage us, to give us insight and understanding, to help us see his faithfulness in the smallest things and in big matters, to show us his glory in creation around us and in how he is at work in our life, our children’s lives, and our relationships.

God gives us each minute, each hour. Time is his. He wastes none of it. My frequent prayer is God, help me be more present to you. Why? My natural tendency is to lead me, rather than follow him. When I lead, my mind gets so busy that I exhaust myself before I’ve even done anything. When I follow him, peace anchors my heart and a welcoming sense of order unfolds.

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.” (Isaiah 26.3-4)

God knows what we truly need to accomplish in a day—those things that serve his purposes for our family, for our self, for our work, and for others. He wants to help us, even show us how. His design for our day includes rest, pleasure, and a deepening awareness of his presence and love.

The other day I was in the airport, rushing to the gate for my next flight. My mind was running, Maybe I’ll have time to grab something to eat and attend a few emails. Then one of the kids called, “Hi Mom, I only have a few minutes. How are you?”  God had a better plan for my NOW. I pulled my suitcase to the nearest wall and tuned out the people rushing around me. Five precious minutes, from God.

When I practice being present to NOW, I stop moving in my momentum and I become open to the moment that God has for me.

NOW is significant because it’s from God. We can trust that He has NEXT covered, too.

Dear God,
I want to trust you more. I want to see and experience you more in my day, in my life. Help me learn to be more still and present to you throughout the day. Help me learn to enjoy more moments, to enjoy You, and to trust that you have the way forward for all that I truly need to do. Amen.

The Power of a Smile

dsc01540Picture this. Your child or husband glances your way or walks in the door—and smiles just at you. It’s a moment, fleeting yet formative. We love our family most, so it makes sense that their smiles are of greatest value to us. So, this means that our smile is of greatest value to them.

It’s a moment, fleeting yet formative.
It is one way that we encourage and build one another up. Our facial expression carries influence to a child’s heart. Throughout the day, a child receives all sorts of messages – at school, among siblings, on the bus, among peers at an event, at a sleepover, or on social media. The warmth of our smile helps wash away the film of the other messages. We communicate value.
When we’re in a challenging season with a child, a smile says, “I love you no matter what.” It’s a tangible way to demonstrate and distinguish that our dislike is toward the challenging issue at hand, not the child. When we smile, God’s love shines through and stirs relief in a child. When we smile, we invite nearness. We extend grace. We love.
dsc01529At different times God has gently shown me the absence of my smile toward Terrell or our children. I’ve realized this mostly happens when I’m distracted by a circumstance or busyness. It’s so easy to unintentionally move through a day in our home without a smile, even though these are the very people we love most on this earth. Thankfully, God is our help in all things.
“A cheerful heart brings a smile to your face” (Proverbs 15.13, The Message)
The key to a cheerful heart is our personal relationship with Jesus. He knows that daily circumstances can give us emotional whiplash. In the Old Testament, David wrestled through hard relationship challenges, yet God was his focus and this relationship sustained him. His gladness was in God and his countenance displayed this.
“I bless the LORD who gives me counsel:
     in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the LORD always before me;
    because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices…”  
(Ps. 16.7-9a)

dsc01525Our desire to smile rides on the condition of our heart. It’s easy to smile when we’re happy,  when good or encouraging things happen. But when disappointment, discouragement, or disobedience color the day, it’s hard to muster such desire. Our optimistic-tank is drained dry. God knows. Like David, we can “set the LORD always before” us. With God at our right hand, we will not be shaken. We can smile because God is good.

Dear Jesus,
I want my relationship with you to be more. I want my gladness to be found in You—and then overflow to my family. Thank you for your love. Amen.