A Gratitude Poem – Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

I am thankful for today, it’s a gift not deserved
It allows me the privilege to humbly serve
I am thankful for the poor who teach me real faith
They teach me how to walk, in more eloquent ways

I am thankful for the pain that I try hard to avoid
It draws me to the only One who can fill my heart void
I am thankful for my tears that sting my blood shot eyes
They bring healing to my hurt and expose the lies

I am thankful that man is not perfect, as not to depend
It reminds me to put my hope in the One without end
I am thankful for my mistakes, for my sins and disgrace
It keeps me from religion and makes me run towards Grace

I am thankful for the journey, life’s ups and downs
Living fully in the moment,  possibilities have no bounds
I am thankful for friends, who put up with my foolish ways
“He is a stubborn mule, but we love him anyways!”

I am thankful for the beauty, that never goes away
Looking at her smile, that is offered every day
I am thankful for her brown hair, brunette I’m told
It was that way from the beginning, it never gets old

I am thankful for two gifts, their eyes deep vivid blue
They have grown up wisely, I am enjoying the view
I am thankful for their passionate, selfless hearts
Their maturity comes from the side of their mother’s parts

I am thankful for the two who brought me into this world
They allowed me to dream, to make my life unfurled
I am thankful when they would say, “Follow your passions”
It has brought me to difficult places full of God’s fashion

I am thankful for my creator, who wonderfully made me
He makes me walk boldly with a sense of great responsibility
I am thankful for his patience, his utter sense of waiting
For me to grow up, get on board and become consenting

I am thankful for children, showing hope for tomorrow
They teach me to trust, play, love, laugh and marvel
I am thankful for children, who have no limitations
They teach me to dream, to ask, and not to question

I am thankful for forgiveness, a gift offered freely
Makes me let go of past grudges and do it more quickly
I am thankful for the Sacrifice willing to be punished
My life is based on Him saying, “It is Finished!”

People’s Answers to Simplifying their Lives

These are some of the responses from my blog “I HAVE A QUESTION. I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR YOUR ANSWER!”
I will continue to post more answers as they come in.

LORI
“Live simply so that others may simply live” Mother Teresa

“This is a spiritual principle that cannot be explained, only lived and experienced.”

“My husband retired a couple of years ago and we thought we’d have to reduce our giving due to reduced income, but decided to give the same amount for a couple of months, and we seemed to have the same amount of money left! It’s crazy, we’ve actually increased our giving, and now sponsor 7 Compassion children (but you know, there’s still space on the refrigerator for more pictures…)”

“When you tell God you want to be able to give to help others, HE changes your desires, and makes a way for it to happen, and brings you great joy.”

PAULINE
“I would like to simplfy my life and make it as honest as possible. Working through the 12 steps in celebrate is helping me with that and with your encouragement I will try harder.”

FORREST
“We have had the phone ring for more work 15 minutes after we prayed, cars that just kept on going even after they should have died, lived on a $500 dollar food budget per month……with a family of 10……..no, not a misprint…$500.00 for 10 people!”

TARA
“After traveling to Africa people often I ask why I like going there so much (not exactly a vacation hot spot . It is hard to explain, but in the land of such extreme poverty, disease, climate, religious bondage, life is simple. Instead of feeling anxious I feel at peace, I feel useful rather than useless, instead of rushed I know I am living exactly in God’s timing.”

ANN
“I do sponsor a Child in Africia(David) and hope he is blessed. I know I am. Especially when we get his letters.”

“We are learning to live on what we have, and help when we can.”

“This is what a Church should do help the people who can not help themselves, that have no voice and no hope, not only financially but in action and emotionally.”

CHERIE
“Every time we have needed Him, He has shown up for us. As a family, we have been through some unbelievable circumstances where we saw “no way out”.

“We have tithed faithfully, even when we felt fear about financial circumstances. I refuse to give in to that fear, because He has proven himself faithful to us, over and over.”

“It makes us feel like we are helping………compassion kids (when you really SEE the difference that SMALL amount of money makes in their lives, it’s like “I can do without this Starbucks every day).”

“When we serve at the Senior Centers, when we rake leaves in a mobile home park, when we help an elderly person navigate the supermarket, even, for me, at work……..the love of Jesus Christ can shine through me, in the way that I treat my patients, and co-workers.”

“Live a life in FULL VIEW, because He sees, even when others do not. Not like “geez, I HAVE to do this, or I’ll get in trouble”, but more like “Lord. I want to honor you”.

PAULA
“Lately, even though we make less now than we ever have, God has put in on my heart to not only give my 10% where needed but more, and with a little fear but lots of faith I have said okay and He is faithful. We have all we need.”

“There’s a sense of true love and family when people help each other and share what they have, even if it’s a cup of coffee. And my 5 year old prays at every dinner for Ines, our compassion child, that she has a nice dinner. He’s been doing that for a year. It warms my heart.”

TIM
“Responses to your questions from your blog.
Question 1. Basic cable $9.95 next step up almost $100.
Question 5. James 4:17. Anyone who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it sins. Ouch.”

Matthew 25 34-36 “And here’s why: I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room, 36 I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me.” Matthew 25 40 “Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me – you did it to me.’

These are just some of the responses from my blog,”I HAVE A QUESTION. I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR YOUR ANSWER!”
Would love to hear your response.

The Opposite of Fear is Love

My son goes to school in Southern California and works for a grocery store chain.

He was working late one night when a man came running into the store, past my son, turned around, about twenty feet from him, and started shooting in his direction.

The man was actually shooting at a policeman who had run into the store, but the policeman was right behind my son, so the bullets were flying towards both of them.

My son lunged to the left to avoid the bullets, but the policeman lunged left also.

There was a Doritos display between the shooter and my son so as he was diving out of the way, shards of nacho cheese Doritos were flying everywhere. The sliding glass doors at the front of the store where shattering from the bullets also.

My son said everything moved in slow motion, but the noise was deafening.

Long story short, my son(who we call superman now) was actually faster than the speeding bullets and as he avoided the bullets, the cop began to shoot back and eventually shot the man.

My son was shaken up a little, and had to spend some time getting nacho cheese chips out of his hair, but overall was fine, but he had to sit in the police station all night giving reports about what he saw.

While he was at the station, he met an interesting couple.

This couple was from the state of Washington and the man was a professor of accounting at Washington State. They were in Southern California because the university my son goes to was interested in hiring him.

The man had always wanted to teach at a Christian college, but his wife was nervous about moving to California because it seemed like a dangerous, wild kind of place.

The University said, “Why don’t you come down and just check out the place.” So they did.
They landed at the airport and while driving to check into their hotel, they decided to stop by a local grocery store to pick up some snacks.

When they drove in front of the store, bullets started hitting the side of their rental car. Yes, the same bullets my son was avoiding inside.

This couple had been in California for 2 hours and their worst fears were coming true. They had become a part of a Hollywood movie.

The couple was uninjured, but they had to go to the police station, and this is where they met my son. When they told him the story, my son was thinking, “Well, this is the last time they will ever come to California.”

After giving reports to what they saw, everyone left the police station going their separate ways.

About three months later, my son was working a late shift at the grocery store and he turned around and there was this lady from the state of Washington.

Bonded by flying bullets my son ran and gave her a big hug and asked her what she was doing there and she said that they had decided to take the job and move to California.

She told my son, “We were not going to let some random act of violence keep us from doing what God was wanting us to do. We were not going to let fear have the last word!”

I love that couple!

Fear takes away the gift of today, and robs us of God’s dreams for us for tomorrow.
Fear stops us from doing great things.
Fear stops us from seeing miracles.

The Apostle Paul faced all kinds of life threatening situations yet said, “The Lord has not given us a spirit of fear, but he has given us a spirit of power, love and a sound mind.”

The fact is you can’t remove all the risks out of life.

Life is composed of a series of risks, being born, leaving the house, driving, making friends, getting married, having kids(that is a real scary one), careers, health, eating sushi, being a Sacramento Kings fan, going to the broken places of this world.

Why has God put us in this kind of world?
Because He wants His love to triumph over our fears.
He wants us to experience His miracles.
He wants His miracles to bring Him glory.

The children of Israel were getting ready to pass through the Red Sea and experience a miracle, but they responded in fear when Pharoah and his army had them trapped.

Fear makes us sarcastic, “Moses, did you bring us out in the desert to die?”
Fear keeps us in unhealthy situations, “Moses, let us go back and keep serving the Egyptians.”
Fear makes us very short-sighted, “Moses, it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than die in the desert.”

At Disneyland there is a ride called Space Mountain.

When you are standing in line there are warning signs that tell you why you shouldn’t ride this ride. “If you are pregnant or you get dizzy or you get bloody noses or if you have a bad heart or back, if you have bad breath, bad fashion, hemorrhoids, back hair, a bad comb-over, a mullet, or a fanny pack you should not ride this ride.”

The list disqualifies most Americans.

While you’re waiting, there are about five or six turnouts, where you can chicken out and get out of line. But there is a point, when they strap you into that little bobsled, where there’s only one way out. You’re going to have to take the ride.

That is what I call the moment of truth.

That is where the children of Israel were at the Red Sea.

And they had an opportunity to believe, to have faith, but instead, they respond in fear.
They have just spent four hundred years in slavery.
They have been beaten, mistreated, abused, killed, starved, and overworked for four hundred years and now they’re saying, “Let’s go back.”

God will constantly put us in scary situations where it will be tempting to play it safe rather than go forward into uncertain territory so that He can do a miracle.

How do we overcome our fears?

Psalm 56:3 says, “When I am afraid, I will put my confidence in God… Yes, I will trust the promises of God.”

We often think that the opposite of fear is courage. But the opposite of fear is love.

When we experience and receive and begin to live in God’s love, we become less fearful people. The apostle John said it like this, “There is no fear in love. Instead, perfect love drives fear away. Fear has to do with being punished. The one who fears does not have perfect love.” 1 John 4:18

How do we overcome our fears?

We must trust the promises of God (Psalm 56:3) and we must allow His love to drive out all of our fears.

My son returned to work the next day. His manager was shocked. “Why are you here? I thought you would be afraid to come back. I thought you would need some time off”.

Well, let me speak for my son. I believe that he trusts that his life is in God’s hands and that love, not fear will have the last word.

Struggling With Hope

Wrestling with my emotions, I wrote this shortly after my sister Rhonda went home to be with Jesus much too early:

My body sweats, soul shivers
Senses numb, spirit quivers
Eyes smile, heart aches
Walking strong, legs break

I look so good, feel so sad
I have so much, give so bad
I know so much, still can’t find
I see a rainbow, I’m color blind

I need to know, I need to feel
I need to find, I need to understand
I want to celebrate, I want to smile
I want to dance awhile
I want to feel love

The sun is bright, my body’s cold
Promises new, my faith is old
Past is clear, future hole
World stands still, spinning out of control

I love so much, nothing to give
I try so hard, tired to live
I cry so deep, no emotions to find
I run so fast, while I am getting behind

Can I live again?
Can I trust again?
Can I dream again?
Can I spread my wings and fly?

Many people, all alone
Pressing deadlines, postponed
Beautiful sounds, deaf ears
Echoing laughter, salty tears

I talk so much, people bemused
Search for meaning, more confused
Asked to be strong, silent fear
I am asking the same question……
IS IT HOPE THAT I HEAR?

I need to know, I need to feel
I need to find, I need to understand
I want to celebrate, I want to smile
I want to dance awhile
I want to feel love

Can I live again?
Can I trust again?
Can I dream again?
Can I spread my wings and fly?

Can I finish as I began
I am asking the same question……
IS IT HOPE THAT I HEAR AGAIN?

“The Lord is there to rescue all who are discouraged and have given up hope.” Psalm 34:18 (CEV)