Tag Archives: thankfulness

blessing, abundance, trial, and drought

Colette Fabry, Co-Author of awriteheart.comToday I walked through Wegmans, which I believe is the greatest supermarket in the United States. I saw a clear case with a black mushroom in it called a Burgundy Truffle. Its price is $599.99 per pound. I looked around at all the food. Everything you can imagine and then some. There were fruits and vegetables of every kind and even a hundred different types of bottled water. Water! We understand what it is to be full. To eat until we can’t fit anything else in our stomachs. We are a blessed people.

This afternoon I was reading about the children of Israel. In Deuteronomy 8 they were entering a season of blessing and abundance. Their wilderness journey, the difficult trial of drought and hunger, had just ended. In this chapter God is telling them why they had to go through that hard time and what they were to learn from it:

It was to humble them.

They had pretty much nothing of value and had to rely on God for every basic need, such as food and water. They had the same clothes and shoes for who knows how long. Poverty humbles. And humbled hearts find it easy to turn to an all sufficient God.

It was to prove them.

It showed their character, determination, and strength. Or the lack of those things. And character or lack of character is meant to turn hearts to a righteous and perfect God.

It was to see whether they would keep God’s commandments.

He showed them the Father-child relationship and because of that they would understand how important it was to walk in his ways and to fear him.  And living this out will turn hearts to a loving and fair Abba Father-God.

It was to give them the experience of true hunger so that they would understand their need for God.

They were to remember that when they  were “filled up” with abundance, they must lift their hearts to God (Deut. 8:10,14). He warned them that if they turned from Him and forgot where their blessing came from, they would be destroyed. Understanding this turns hearts towards our Provider-God who does not share His glory.

God told the Israelites that they must never take credit for their blessings. He told them that it is God who blesses with wisdom and knowledge and the ability to work.  It all comes from his hand (Deut. 8:17-18) Lastly, He said that if they decided, in their abundance, to forget Gods commandments then they would perish. He said it so clearly. “You will perish” (Deut. 8:19). Understanding this shows the grace and goodness of a holy God that gives what is needed.

I’ve watched so many people over the years. People in famine or in abundance, people in trial or in peace…people who know what Gods Word says about how to live life. And many chose to do things their own way and stray from God’s commandments: they choose to marry unbelievers and be unequally yoked, to choose sin, to grow prideful or hateful or unforgiving or bitter. God absolutely promises that those choices will lead to destruction – destruction of something or someone and the absence of His presence and blessing.

I remember the days when Matt and I were poor. We were young, newly-married college students and although we both worked, our tax statement showed our yearly income to be under $9000.00. Poverty level. As difficult as it was to go through, I am so thankful for that time. God did some pretty amazing things for us during that “drought and hunger” season. Our needs were always met and our faith grew strong. It definitely made us appreciative of what God did for us then… and now. Our trials throughout life are for the exact same reasons as the Israelites…to humble us, to prove us, to show us the importance of keeping his commandments, and to always remember where our blessings and strength comes from. From God and God alone.

Today’s reminder caused me to lift my heart high to God with thanksgiving and praise for all that He has done…in times of poverty and in times of blessing.  In both of those seasons there is the potential to focus on self.  But clearly, the answer is to focus on an all sufficient, loving, righteous and Holy God who we get the priviledge to call Father.

Psalm 121:2 My help cometh from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.

[custom_headline type=”right” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″ accent=”true”]How can I say thanks, Colette[/custom_headline]

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~Colette & Melissa
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Feature photo attribution: flickr photo by Guilherme Jófili http://flickr.com/photos/gjofili/4337577836 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

camping, complaining, and the condition of our hearts

My husband, our three kiddos, and I went camping in the Adirondacks a couple of weeks ago. It was a really good trip – the kids are at such great ages for it. We saw bugs and toads and deer and even a black bear! Our son had a whole day of man-time with his daddy in a canoe, and I shopped with my girls in the little town nearby and took them swimming in a lake with the mountains in view. But despite all of the good stuff, my middle daughter found something – no, everything – to complain about.

camping, complaining, and the condition of our heartsLet’s see…She complained that the car was too hot. The trip was too long. Having the windows down was too windy. There was a bug in the car. She was hungry. And thirsty. We were going too fast. The roads were too hilly. It was too hot when we arrived at our camp. And there were bugs in the woods. She was hungry and thirsty. She didn’t get the top bunk. She didn’t like the chairs we had. The fire was too smokey. There weren’t enough water bottles. Her water bottle was dirty. She didn’t want to eat chicken. Or hot dogs. Or sandwiches. She couldn’t use the iPad. She couldn’t go to the bathroom alone. The shower was weird. She wanted to stay up later. The slides at the water park we went to were too steep. The water was too cold. She was hungry and thirsty. She wanted a different towel. Our hike was too long, and it was hot outside. We brought the wrong snacks. She wanted to wear different shoes, but without socks. The ride to and from the hike was too long and hilly. The ride back home was too long, and we went too fast. And she was hungry and thirsty.

I almost. Went. Insane. But God really showed me a LOT from enduring all of that complaining.

Complaining can be expressed in a lot of different ways.

Of course when we think of complaining we think of finding faults or problems with things that aren’t really that big of a deal. But that’s not the only way that we tell others that we’re dissatisfied. My husband and I have movie nights sometimes, and when he picks a movie I don’t like I complain by doing something else while I “watch” the movie. I was at a friend’s house recently and when one of the kids didn’t get the swing they wanted, they complained by refusing to play. If someone feels that a co-worker isn’t pulling their weight, they might complain by gossiping about that person. Complaining takes a lot of different forms, and depending on the circumstance we choose which method will be most effective in communicating it and rallying others to our cause.

Complaining communicates a lot of things about who we are.

Complaining is thanklessness. Complaining is an attitude of entitlement and greed. Complaining is lazy. Complaining is arrogant. And complaining communicates a lack of contentment for what God has provided. It tells other people that we think we are the center of the universe – or at least that we think we should be.

There are things about our lives that are inconvenient, uncomfortable, and irritating – and till we get to heaven there’s nothing we can do about that. But WE are responsible for our responses. God has given us power and freedom to view our circumstances the way He wants us to, and at times even to change our circumstances – and it’s up to us to follow through.

Complaining affects the people who hear it.

There are some activities that many Christians hesitate over because they fear leading others into sin – and that’s a good thing. Drinking and entertainment are a couple of hot topics that come to mind when I think of things that might tempt another Christian to sin. Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8 contain instruction regarding our freedom in Christ, and not allowing our freedoms to cause others to stumble into sin – that is the context that we most often think of causing others to stumble. Sadly, I never – NEVER – considered that complaining might make others more likely to sin. But it does. Mark 9:42 shows us how seriously God takes the matter: “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea.” Wow.

Over my week of camping with my glass-half-empty daughter, I responded to her complaining in a variety of ways – some good and some bad. The good mom and Jesus follower in me answered patiently, and disciplined in love. But at other times, I lost my temper, I was sarcastic, I complained about something myself, I gossiped, or I distanced myself in an unloving way. I take ownership for every one of those responses. But what I realized was that when I complain, others are tempted to respond poorly – just like I was. When we complain, we may be causing others to stumble into their own sin in more ways than one. And as for those who are not saved, complaining will keep them from seeing Christ in us. 

Complaining is a condition of the heart.

Complaining is more than just a statement about something we don’t like – it’s a condition of the heart. God is our provider, and the Bible tells us that He will always give us what we need (Luke 12:22-34). So we don’t need more than what He provides for us! Philippians 2:14-15 tells us that we should do all things without complaining so that we can be a light in a dark world…so that we can be set apart…and set apart is what it means to be HOLY! In Philippians 4:11-13 Paul says that he had learned to be content in any and every circumstance, and that he could do all things through Christ who strengthened him – I can only imagine how difficult it was sometimes to be content in jail as he was, and persecuted as he was.  But the same power that rested on Paul rests on us…The same God that empowered Paul empowers us…The same Jesus that saved Paul saved us. And Jesus is enough. Always. If our hearts truly believe that He is enough, we will find nothing to complain about.

My family survived our camping trip, and I’m really glad we went. The same daughter who complained about so much is also the one who is fearless to try new things, who is crazy fun to be around, and who loves to sing songs about Jesus. I feel like God allowed me to catch just a glimpse of what He sees in our hearts when we complain. My prayer is that He will teach me, and all of us, to live a life overflowing with thankfulness toward Him for all that He has graciously given to us.

[custom_headline type=”right” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″ accent=”true”]With a grateful heart, Melissa[/custom_headline]

[content_band style=”color: #fff;” bg_image=”http://www.awriteheart.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/48352229_caf6c84ceb_z.jpg” parallax=”true” border=”all” inner_container=”true”] [custom_headline style=”margin-top: 0; color: #fff;” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h3″]Time is running out! Enter our July Giveaway NOW!!![/custom_headline]
With each post we have published in July, Colette has added ONE MORE of her FAVORITE THINGS to this month’s giveaway! As of this post, the giveaway includes: 

Godiva Chocolates,
a SURPRISE gift from Anthropologie,
Dunkin’ Donuts coffee,
Victoria’s Secret hair spray and leave-in conditioner,
a lilac scented Yankee Candle,
and a beautiful salad tong set from anthropologie!

There are THREE WAYS TO ENTER!!!

1. Subscribe to our email newsletter during the month of July – click HERE!
2. Follow us Instagram – click HERE!
3. Tag a friend under any post on our Facebook wall and encourage them to follow, like, or subscribe – click HERE!

You CAN be entered more than once! SUBSCRIBE, FOLLOW, and TAG NOW!!! The giveaway ends this week!!!
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Feature photo attribution: flickr photo by stillwellmike http://flickr.com/photos/stillwellmike/9539948576 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

the amazing things that happen when we are thankful in ALL things

Colette @ awriteheart.com

[blockquote type=”center”]In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. I Thessalonians 5:18[/blockquote]

I went for a long walk on a beautiful day. Thinking on thankfulness, I wasn’t too sure about the verse above and being thankful in everything. I rephrased it into a question. It’s the will of God to give thanks in all of the circumstances that have to do with me? I had lived a long time believing that God didn’t want me to be thankful for certain things. Things I considered bad, wrong or unfair in my life. I took a deep breath, began walking faster and first thanked God, out loud, for all that was good. Easy!

[pullquote type=”right”]”How could you possibly want me to be thankful in something that brought pain…something so ugly!?”[/pullquote]Then I thanked God for what I considered bad in my life. For every heartache I’d felt, for what I didn’t think was fair, for what brought me pain and tears, for any thing…past and present…that had gone wrong. Some situations popped into my head that I didn’t even realize that I was gripping onto with anger and bitterness. Let me tell you how hard that was. It was agonizing. It brought actual physical pain to surrender everything, in thanks, as something that was passed through God’s sovereign hand. I would think of a difficult time and before the words of thanks came out I stopped. I wrestled internally with God and asked Him if I was really suppose to thank Him in that? I continued, “How could you possibly want me to be thankful in something that brought pain…something so ugly!?” I couldn’t stand to even think of it let alone be thankful in it.

I wondered if this is what the Bible meant in Hebrews 13:15 and Psalm 116:17 by a sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise – the kind that costs something. Then in my struggling I was reminded of Job. The awful trials that good man endured were terrible. Satan was behind all of them and God allowed it: the destruction, the deaths, the sickness, the heartache, the hurt. He allowed it for so many reasons: to test Jobs faith, to show Himself strong, to show Job that God is all he needed, to give us all a living example throughout history about God, His sovereignty and His love for this man who, again in the end, was blessed abundantly.

The same holds true for Joseph. In the end he was thankful in all that had transpired in his life. The abandonment, the mistreatment, the separation from his father…all of it God used for good. The very thing that hurt Joseph became the avenue that God used to bless him. God was the faithful One in his life and He elevated Joseph to places of leadership. Then one day Joseph had a decision to make: would he curse his brothers and repay evil for evil? He didn’t. Instead he wept and embraced his brothers with sincere forgiveness. GOD was the hero of Job’s story. And GOD was the hero of Joseph’s story.

That day as I walked I told God that I want him to be the hero of my story as well. I thanked Him IN it all and because of that I was then able to be sincerely thankful FOR it all. I released all thanksgiving to Him. I thanked a sovereign God for allowing even the most difficult things in my life. I realized that he allows them for my good and for his deserved glory.   Had I never experienced difficulty, how would I understand in the sufferings of others?  Of Christ?  How would I be able to teach and understand forgiveness had I not been faced with situations that needed both my forgiveness and my need for forgiveness?

[pullquote type=”left”]Nothing compares to the cross. [/pullquote]Towards the end of my walk, I thought of the cross. For many years I have said and sang songs of thanks for the cross. The place where the most atrocious thing happened. Where God, who came in the form of Jesus, was hung and beaten and paid the price for all sin. Giving thanks in that? Had it not been for the cross and Christ’s crucifixion, that awful and precious act, we would be lost forever. God has a plan and a purpose for all things. All things. Nothing compares to the cross. Not any hurt or sorrow that I have or ever will have compares to the heartache of the cross. How thankful I am for the horrible, beautiful cross!

Amazing things happen when we are thankful in ALL things!

  • Our perspective changes and we can safely trust a sovereign God whose greatest characteristic is love. We no longer need to harbor bitterness, blame or anger because we know that God has a bigger and better plan…..for pure good and His glory.
  • There is a miraculous shift in the deepest part of our heart.
  • We are set free from burdens that we are not suppose to bear.
  • The cross becomes more and more our center.

I encourage everyone to spend time in thanksgiving to God for ALL things, the good and the bad…because nothing is wasted in His hands. I have watched many brokenhearted people do this. It’s one of the most difficult, emotionally draining commands given. But also one of the greatest and deepest healing things a person can do.

“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him and bless his name. For the Lord is good…” Psalm 100:4 That we can enter in at all is unfathomable – THIS is the amazing grace of God. For this grace and for all things I am truly thankful!

[custom_headline type=”right” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″ accent=”true”]Give thanks with a grateful heart, Colette[/custom_headline]

[content_band style=”color: #fff;” bg_image=”http://www.awriteheart.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/48352229_caf6c84ceb_z.jpg” parallax=”true” border=”all” inner_container=”true”] [custom_headline style=”margin-top: 0; color: #fff;” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h3″]Our July Giveaway Just Got Better![/custom_headline]With each post we publish in July, Colette will add ONE MORE ITEM to this month’s giveaway! As of this post, the giveaway includes Godiva Chocolates, and a SURPRISE gift from Anthropologie – Colette’s favorite store!

There are THREE WAYS TO ENTER!!!
1. Subscribe to our email newsletter during the month of July – click HERE!
2. Follow us Instagram – click HERE!
3. Tag a friend on our Facebook wall and encourage them to follow, like, or subscribe – click HERE!

You CAN be entered more than once! SUBSCRIBE, FOLLOW, and TAG NOW!!!

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Feature photo attribution: flickr photo by eschipul http://flickr.com/photos/eschipul/6792993194 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license