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Posts Tagged ‘gifts’

Every morning, after my shower and before eating breakfast, I sit down at my kitchen table and open a journal. Lately I’ve noticed I’m nearing the end of the empty pages, so soon I’ll go purchase another book to fill again.

img_2447Each morning I write down five things I’m grateful for…five gifts in my life. Some are silly (longer extension hose on the sump pump), some are monumental (healing), some seems small (the smell of brewing coffee), some are large (the furnace has worked great all winter long), some are spiritual (thankful for God’s unconditional love), some are physical (warm socks on a cold day), some are mental (clear mind for today’s work), some are emotional (joy over times with family and friends).

I began my gratitude journal on January 1, 2018 – by the end of the year I had written 1800 lines of thankfulness. I’m sure a few were duplicates (I love the smell of coffee – it probably showed up a couple of times). Today I wrote numbers 530-535 of 2019. It takes some introspection, some self-awareness. Those first few pages were easy to fill, but now it takes some real work to find those things that I’m thankful for. The practice of gratefulness has caused me to look over my day, even as I’m living it. What will I write tomorrow morning? What am I living right now that I’m grateful for? Who has caused me joy, or pain, that I can turn into a journal entry?

I know God has blessed me with health, love, joy, family and friends I treasure. I have work, shelter, provision, food on my table and blankets on my bed. I enjoy electricity, hot water and air-conditioning. We drive two cars, worship the Lord with freedom, and eat meat every day. And I know most of the world doesn’t have any of the above.

Would you take on the gratitude challenge? You can use a cheap spiral notebook, or purchase a fancy journal, but no matter what the pen and paper look like, it’s the expressions of gratefulness that will change your outlook on your life. And it will definitely spark joy!

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.  1 Thessalonians 5:18

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I’ve loved my teachers since I started kindergarten way back in the olden days. I can remember each one very vividly, which should scare some of us. Teachers are such a huge influence in the lives of our kids – mostly for good, occasionally one or two not so good. For the most part I have great memories of good teachers who loved their students and were dedicated to their calling of training up the next leaders of our society.

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First day of school, some unknown year, standing in the middle of the road

 

In first grade, my original teacher broke her leg right before the school year began so we had Mrs. Highland as our substitute teacher for over half the year. I loved Mrs. Highland. And she obviously loved her students. Because I started my “school life” with her, she became the next most important female in my life (after my mom). I’m so grateful I had that positive reinforcement in my young life. Because I could read before I got to first grade and often finished assignments before others, Mrs. Highland asked if I would like to help some of the other students occasionally. I guess I did okay, because she told my mom that “Kris should become a teacher.” I was six – not really thinking about my life’s calling at that time in my life. I think back then I wanted to grow up to be a waitress.

But Mrs. Highland was attuned to her students so well that she saw talents and giftings in her little group of six-year-olds…way before others were even looking. She encouraged us to try harder and go beyond our assignment. When we were concentrating on learning 2 + 2, she was seeing future city leaders and attorneys. While we sounded out our Dick and Jane Readers, she was envisioning teachers and doctors and priests. She gave us resources that pushed our little six-year-old minds to dream big, to see ourselves for the valuable human beings we were…even in first grade.

 

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The youngest class picture I could locate. I’m top row, second from the right.

My home town is a small village in northern Illinois with a small school of kindergarten through high school encompassed in one building. As first graders, we often saw and interacted with high school students so we had opportunity to dream about being like the “big kids.” Mrs. Highland already saw us as “big kids” and beyond.

 

I missed Mrs. Highland for many years after I left first grade, though I was able to see her often. She was always the kindest and most encouraging woman, even when I finally reached “big kid” status. And I’ll never forget her “prophecy” over me – I didn’t become an officially trained and certified school teacher, but I’ve been teaching my whole life…tutoring other students in high school and college, home schooling my own two children, teaching women’s classes and now privately tutoring elementary, high school and adult students.

Mrs. Highland saw something in me when I was six years old. She looked for the gifts each of her students possessed, even if those talents weren’t finely tuned or sophisticated. I want to be able to do that with my kids…all of them. Each student I tutor becomes one of my kids. Each one is special and unique in their own gifts and talents. Some are naturally outgoing and loaded with personality. Others are quieter, shy in the presence of me as a stranger. But I remember my first grade teacher, Mrs. Highland, and how much she encouraged me to reach farther, that nothing is impossible, no matter how old you are.

When I grow up, I want to be just like Mrs. Highland.

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God_provides

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:11

I am so grateful for the provision of God. He gives us life, and breath, and hope. He knew us before we were in the wombs of our mothers, and has a plan and purpose for each of us. He provides ways for us to work, talents for us to use, gifts for us to share. He cares about every detail of our lives. God does not live in some far off place, moving the affairs of men as chess pieces…He is a loving heavenly Father who weeps when we mourn, rejoices when we are happy, and gives us so many good gifts. Of course, His greatest gift was sending His only Son Jesus to die in our place, that we would not be punished for our sins, but will instead be welcomed into His Presence once we have accepted that gift, and proclaimed Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

I cannot imagine my life without God’s provision. There are some in this world who deny His existence, and yet they breathe the air He devised, they walk the earth He formed, they exist in the body of man, who He created to walk with Him.

God’s promise to renew my mind gives me access to His deep thoughts. The presence of the Holy Spirit in my life gives me a Comforter, Teacher, Guide and Friend…Someone who will instruct me throughout this turbulent and sometimes, terrifying journey of life. God has given us armor to wage war against the enemy of our souls. He has given us His Word to wield as a living weapon more powerful than any man made missile. He has provided each of us with spiritual gifts to bless and build up the Body of Christ.

I cannot name one provision of God that I am more grateful for than another. I am dependent on Him for everything I am, everything I do, and everywhere I go. I pray He will always provide me with words to encourage and uplift, talents to build up, and strength to finish the race He has set before me. That is my prayer for you as well.

“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” 2 Peter  1:3

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Hello, long lost readers! I’m back. Once again, for the third year in a row, I’m going to attempt to write a short (promise) blog for each day of Lent (minus Sundays – cuz Sunday is a day of rest and most Sundays, I’m pooped by the time I get home from church).

Today is Fat Tuesday. I’m not going to explain it because it’s easier to just use Google. Go ahead…I’ll wait. (tapping toes, humming tunes, taking a short stroll to get in my steps)

So by now, you also know that tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the traditional start to the Lenten season. Once again, I’m not going to explain Lent so check it out on the search engine of your choice.

Lent is a season of preparation. Many denominations have their followers “give up” something for this 40-day period of time. I did that two years ago – I gave up some bad attitudes, behaviors, mindsets…see year 2015 if you are curious. Last year I “added” some things – good mindsets, food, routines, attitudes.

So what to do this year?  I’ve decided to take the 40 days of Lent and be intentionally grateful. If no one but me gets anything out of it, I’ll have accomplished what I set out to do…because truly, my blog is, first and foremost, for me. I need to be disciplined (at least once a year) and writing during Lent is my attempt.

bigstock-gratitude-37954498Intentionally Grateful – I’ve been greatly influenced in the last few years by author Ann Voskamp. Her book “1000 Gifts” caused me to write down my own list of 1000 beautiful gifts for which I’m grateful, but that was a couple of years ago and it’s time to revisit the discipline…because that’s what it is….I wish I was the type of person who was just naturally grateful, but I’m not. And you probably aren’t either. We take so much for granted. When I whine about my bad back (hallelujah – I’m healed!), I forget the years of great health I’ve enjoyed, and enjoy today. When I lament about being tired, I forget to rejoice that I have a job which pays me a pretty decent wage, tutoring students I enjoy, and a church family who loves and supports us.

In the last month I’ve read a book called “The Happiness Dare” by Jennifer Dukes Lee. I’ve tweeted about it, but Jennifer’s book (and subsequent Facebook book club), showed me that by increasing my level of gratitude, I naturally increase my level of happiness. She published a chart called “30 Days of Gratitude” which I’m going to use to direct my blog focus…starting tomorrow. Don’t hold your breath – it won’t be the best writing you’ve ever read. May even be pretty cheesy most of the time…but it’s my way of being intentionally grateful as I prepare throughout Lent for the greatest day on the Christian church calendar – the celebration of the resurrection of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Now, that’s something to be grateful for!

See you tomorrow.

Kris

Hebrews 12:28 – Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken,let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.

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