Monday, September 28, 2009

gratitude community: 1000 gift list

Ten things I'm thankful for today...

0001: My Savior, and that I can call Him Father.

0002: Beautiful music like that inspires me to lead a more beautiful life.

0003: My husband. The fact that he loves me cranky, sad, silly, mad,...unconditionally. The fact that He puts my needs before his. The fact that this weekend he patiently drove around for 10 minutes on restaurant row while I pouted and said I didn't know what I wanted, and then returned to the first restaurant we stopped at and happily ate there. Then saw me eyeing an overpriced cookie at the mall, and insisted on buying us both one. All to make me happy.

0004: That fact that I get to go stand before a classroom full of 8th graders in a few hours.

0005: Spiritual growth

0006: Wake up calls to remind me to be grateful. Like this Saturday, after complaining about the "eh day", reading a message from a dear friend about her boyfriend who wrecked him motorcycle and is now paralyzed from the chest down.

0007: Biting my tongue instead of complaining and tearing another down.

0008: Waking up right away with the alarm (a miracle!) and having this time this morning.

0009: A gentle reminder from my heavenly Father that all He wants to do is hold me and sing over me.

0010: Lessons in humility that I hope I don't forget. Learning that Christ's way is different that the world's way. Striving. Seeking. Maturing.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

I've Found the Secret of Being Content

As of lately, I've noticed a trend in my thinking. It seems that I am always pushing forward and wanting the next thing that I do not have. When, I am at work, I am longing for home. I think, oh I just can't wait for 3:15 to come around. But then, I climb in my car and OH if that car would just SPEED UP so I could make it home. Then I finally reach home, the place I've been longing for, and I spend some leisure time (which should be the most content time of the day), but I still find myself wishing that the web page would JUST LOAD, if the commercials would just BE OVER, if I could JUST BE FINISHED with this chapter in my book. I cook dinner, wishing it would just be on the table, but then OH if I could just finish these dishes, and on and on it goes. I lay in bed and anticipate the next day, what I have to accomplish, how I will do it, and then I awaken to start the cycle anew. All day, I hear others wishing the time away as well.

"3 more days until Friday"
"2 weeks until fall break"
"3 months until Christmas"
"9 months until summer"
"6 years until I retire".

One day amidst my wishing and longing for the 3:15 bell, I paused and realized that even when the 3:15 bell did ring, I still wouldn't be content. That is when I began considering my constant discontentment with situations. Immediately Paul's words popped into my head (that still small voice), " I have learned to be content whatever the circumstance" When I arrived home, I searched until I found those words in Philippians 4:11, but the secret expanded to the entire chapter. I was blown away as I began to read...

4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

10I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

14Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. 15Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; 16for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need. 17Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account. 18I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.19And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

20To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

WHOA! So, what is the secret to contentment exactly? Although Paul doesn't totally spell it out, to me the answer comes in the rest of the verses above. The truth is, the perfect circumstances on earth just don't exist. Even those who "have it all" in the world's eyes are often the most discontent (insert sob rich celebrity story here). But, as Christians, nothing on earth is really that bad because it is all in light of eternity. So no matter WHAT happens on earth (from long days to really hard times like sickness, times of want, and death), we can be content because of what the future holds for us. That is why those who seek contentment in worldly pleasures, can never reach it. The only source of true contentment is handing over our lives to the one who created us, and finally living the life we were designed to live. In fact, I can say from personal experenice that the times in my life when I have sought after the Lord instead of the world have truely been the happiest times of my life because of this truth.
So now, I am trying to practice contentment coupled with patience (another thing I've been pondering lately, perhaps another post too). Because no matter the circumstance, I have something to rejoice about....CHRIST IN ME, THE HOPE (contentment, joy, and peace) of glory.

"The greatest gift we can give to our almighty God is to live gladly because of the knowledge of his love!!"