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Posts Tagged ‘Deuteronomy 26:11’

 

In March of this year I began a new journal, A Celebration of Small Things, in an effort to become more aware of God’s daily gifts.  But after discovering the quotes below it became clear: my gratitude list is missing whole categories of blessings.

See what you think of these statements.  (Note that with each quote I’ve included my own prayer-response and a corresponding scripture.)

 

QUOTE #1

Is the glass half empty or half full?

Just be thankful you have a glass!

—Jack Wellman

 

You’ve given me a beautiful glass, Father—a life overflowing with loving family and friends, days filled with purpose and pleasure, surprise blessings that satisfy my heart with joy. The words “thank you” seem trivial for such gracious gifts.

 

 

“You make me glad by your deeds, O Lord; I sing for joy at the works of your hands.”

Psalm 92:4 NIV

 

QUOTE #2

Give thanks for ‘all things’ for, as it has been well said,

‘Our disappointments are but his appointments.’

—A.W. Pink

 

I thank you, Father, for the doors of opportunity you’ve closed, the challenging moves to new communities you’ve ordained, and the wishes of my heart you’ve withheld. Each disappointment I know was for my benefit and your glory. Thank you for hindsight to understand in part, and the promise that one day I’ll understand in totality.

 

 

“You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

John 13:7 NIV

 

QUOTE #3 

“I thank Thee first because I was never robbed before;

second, because although they took my purse they did not take my life;

third, although they took my all, it was not much;

and fourth, because it was I who was robbed and not I who robbed.

—Matthew Henry,

on the night he was robbed

 

Thank you, Father, for Henry’s example of grateful positivity. No doubt he lifted his own spirit with such a prayer, and I can imagine your smile of approval as well. When trouble assaults my life, may I be as grateful and positive as Matthew Henry.

 

 

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV

 

QUOTE #4

There’s one thing for which you can be thankful—

only you and God have all the facts about yourself.

—Dub Nance

 

Oh, Lord, thank you for being a God who delights to show mercy, lavishes compassionate forgiveness, and understands well my frailty. Thank you also for molding me day by day into the image of Christ—in spite of my shortcomings (Micah 7:18b; Psalm 103:12-14, and 2 Corinthians 3:18).

 

 

“But God is so rich in mercy that,

on account of His great love with which He loved us,

He made us who were dead in trespasses,

alive in unison with Christ.”

Ephesians 2:4-5, Berkeley Version

 

QUOTE #5

The best things are nearest:

breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes,

flowers at your feet, duties at your hand,

the path of God just before you.

—Robert Louis Stevenson

 

Oh, yes, Father. Thank you for numerous “best things” close at hand such as: a spontaneous hug, the chortling giggles of a grand baby, a carnival of birds frolicking in the backyard trees (at least six species at once), and savory chicken/sausage soup—made by Steve—for a bleak and blustery day.

 

 

“Rejoice in all the good which the Lord your God has given to you and your house.”

Deuteronomy 26:11 (emphasis added)

 

Indeed, ALL the good. Thank you, Father, for bringing to mind these new blessings to count.

 

And now, precious readers, which quote especially caught your attention? I’d love to hear about it. Please share your choice and thoughts below!

 

(Art & photo credits:  Nancy Ruegg; http://www.pinterest.com (2); http://www.publicdomainpictures.com; http://www.godswordimages.com; http://www.flickr.com.)

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“Hey, look at this one,” my brother, John, said while passing to me an 8 x 10 of a large family reunion picnic, 1955. He was just a toddler that year, sitting on the lap of our older cousin, Janet. I sat on the opposite end of the children’s row; Mom was next to Aunt Betty in back.

Poor Cousin Greg was hardly visible at all, except for his quintessential cap. Next to him stood Uncle Ralph, pointing at something in the sky and blocking Greg’s face.

“I’ll bet Uncle Ralph did that on purpose.” I commented. “He always was the practical joker.”

John agreed, adding, “Dad counted down to three, and Uncle Ralph probably took it as his cue to act up.” (Dad isn’t in the picture, leading us to believe he was probably the photographer—the one with the expertise and equipment.)

Back and forth John and I passed photos, documents, and memorabilia our mother had saved – two big boxes worth. And while sorting, labeling and organizing, we enjoyed memory after memory.

No doubt you’ve experienced the same:

Remembering the past brings blessing (Proverbs 10:7a).

 

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It was fun to recall with John more than a few of the good old days. In our hands we held again bits of personal history, revisited in our minds the people and places of our youth, and delighted in the happy times of long ago with family and friends, many of whom left positive examples for us to follow.

The remembrance of the righteous is a blessing” (Proverbs 10:7a, HCSB, emphasis added).

 Remembering the past allows us to learn from the experience of others (Deuteronomy 32:7).

 

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Talk to an elderly person about his youth, and you may think he had it a bit rough: one bathroom in the house, one phone, one car, no TV, no computer. Siblings shared bedrooms, hand-me-down clothes, and toys. Everyone had chores to do and Mom and Dad made sure they did them.

Then he’s likely to add: “But it was good for us to have responsibilities at an early age. And even though our family was a bit poor, all of us kids had a great time inventing our own fun. We laughed a lot, too.”

And while listening to such recollections, we realize: three traits of utmost importance a couple of generations ago—responsibility, respect, and resourcefulness—no longer receive as much emphasis. We’d do well to bring them back.

Remembering the past fosters praise and hope today (Isaiah 46:9).

 

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Eugene Peterson wisely wrote: “The before is the root system of the visible now” (Running with the Horses, p. 37).

My brother, John, and I have been blessed by the root system of our family tree that includes: perseverance and patience, humor and humility, wisdom and warm-heartedness.

Even more valuable, though, is all that God has done in the past, providing solid ground for praise in the present and hope for the future, as we:

  • Remember the wonderful works that he has done, his miracles (Psalm 105:5a).
  • Recall how the Lord has led decade after decade (Deuteronomy 8:2).
  • Rejoice in all the good God has bestowed upon our family (Deuteronomy 26:11).
  • Sing for joy at the works of his hands (Psalm 92:4).

 

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Thank you, Heavenly Father, for the blessing of a family tree with sturdy roots. Thank you, too, for the precious memories of your glorious deeds in my life—wonders you performed that I saw with my own eyes. Now may I be faithful to provide a strong, godly root system for those around me, that they may stand stronger yet.

 

(Frequently over the four years of posting on this blog, I’ve included stories of God’s wonderful works in our family—remembrances that foster praise and hope. Several examples include:  The God of Rachel, Henry, and Clara, Part 1; The God of Rachel, Henry, and Clara, Part 2; Christmas Afterglow; Signs and Wonders.  I invite you to skim through!)

 

How have the roots of your family tree impacted your growth?  Please share in the comment section below!

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.pinterest.com; http://www.crosscards.com; http://www.quotescodex.com; http://www.pinterest.com (2).    

 

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(John and me in our second home, 1957)

 

If I close my eyes, I can still see the various rooms of my three childhood homes in northern Illinois, but especially the one we moved to when I was ten–the one in which my parents still lived when Steve and I were married.

With great fondness, I remember reading in the box elder tree behind the house, playing Hotbox with Dad and my brother, watching television with a big bowl of popcorn on my lap, and the four of us eating dinner in the cozy banquette Dad built in the kitchen.

In all kinds of weather John and I walked or rode our bikes to school.  Before the bell rang each morning, one teacher supervised the entire student body of 400+ children as we arrived and played on the playground.  We learned Christmas carols in school and no one complained.

When not in school, John and I were out and about in the neighborhood, playing with the other kids, building snowmen and snow forts, riding our bikes to friends’ homes, to the library, and (in the summertime) to the pool.

I have to admit: my thick, rose-colored glasses cast a utopian hue upon those days. A person reaches a certain age and suddenly the decades of one’s youth become “the good old days”—far superior to the present.

 

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(1959)

 

After all, how many families today sit down together for dinner—with no television, ipads or phones interfering with conversation? What children can enjoy the freedom of riding their bikes clear across town without supervision? Where is there a public school that teaches children Christmas carols?

Times have changed.

To be honest, however, it’s doubtful those days of my youth were actually better.

It’s just my selective memory choosing the tranquil, happy moments. Overlooked are the arguments with my brother (and the teasing I did, for which I still feel deep regret!), those times Mom and Dad were being terribly strict or unfair (in my opinion), and the occasional upset at school or with friends.

I also have to remember:  the Greatest Generation that raised us Baby Boomers thought their good old days were far superior.

For example, in a book of Christmas literature we own, the editor wrote this intro for one selection: “This story is for those to whom the modern holiday season seems to get more glamorous and clamorous each year, but who still experience that old nostalgic feeling for the Christmas-time of a more quiet bygone era.” The year of publication? 1955.

Maybe we should put away our rose-colored glasses, unreliable as they are.

And yet, numerous scriptures encourage us to remember and rejoice in the good of the past—verses like these:

 

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  • “…Rejoice in all the good things the Lord your God has given to you and your household” (Deuteronomy 26:11).
  • “Remember the wonderful works that He has done, His miracles…” (Psalm 105:5a).
  • “I will tell of the kindness of the Lord, the deeds for which He is to be praised, according to all He has done for us” (Isaiah 63:7).

So are flights of nostalgia right or wrong?

It depends.

Constant longing for the past creates dissatisfaction in the present. That’s obviously not healthy.

But remembering God’s blessings of the past strengthens our faith and creates a deep longing for more of him in the present. That’s obviously a good thing!

You know what else would be a good thing? To savor today’s blessings and not wait till a decade from now to enjoy them.

 

(Photo credits:  Nancy Ruegg and http://www.pinterest.com.)

 

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(Very similar style to our new home–only ours is even prettier!

Photo credit:  www.houzz.com)

 

Two weeks ago today we arrived at our new home in Ohio, to begin retirement near our sons and their families. Steve’s forty-year chapter of pastoring churches has been completed.

Times of transition almost always prove challenging. The month of June was no exception for us. Saying good-by to our loving, supportive congregation in Florida was difficult. I wanted to split myself in two, leaving half of me there, and moving the other half north to be near family. Either that, or convince the whole church to move with us. Alas.

And then there are all the questions such as:

  • Will the family still be as enthused about our close proximity a year from now? In ten years?
  • Will we be able to find a loving, supportive church, where we can make friends and enjoy new opportunities for service?
  • Will we be able to tolerate winter again, after four decades in the South?

But I already know the answers—in part.

  • If the family loses their enthusiasm for our presence, whose fault is that?!
  • I can trust God’s leading to the church home he’s already hand-picked for us. He wants us to grow and serve even more than we do.
  • Of course we can survive winter! Billions of people do it every year. Besides, the warmth of family will more than compensate.

And warmth of family is just one of many joys proffered by this new chapter in our lives. In fact, I’ve become “misty-eyed from splashes of joy”* a number of times in this process:

  • Last get-togethers (at least for a while) with old friends, accompanied by much reminiscing and laughter.
  • A surprise party and reception where love permeated the very air we breathed.
  • The dozens of thoughtful cards, notes, and gifts received.
  • A real estate agent and moving company representative who both turned out to be Christians.
  • The ride from Florida to Ohio with our younger son, Jeremy. (He’s a very funny guy!)
  • The first glimpse of our new home, especially the spacious, newly renovated kitchen. (We had made decisions from Florida, trusted our son, Eric, with the details, and had seen the process only in pictures.) Just like the homeowners on HGTV, I cried.
  • The stunning tree-top view out the kitchen/sitting area windows and from the deck, because the house was built into the side of a hill.
  • A raccoon we’ve named Ralphie, whose home is clearly visible from our back windows and deck. We’ve chuckled at his antics.
  • Friendly neighbors—one of whom works at Home Depot and has already helped us with an electrical problem.
  • And of course, the privilege to pop over to Eric’s and Hilja’s—to enjoy their delightful cooking and company and Baby Elena.

I could list more, but you get the idea. Perhaps the phrase “splashes of joy” isn’t quite accurate. It’s been more like a flood.

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Oh, Father, how I rejoice in all of the splashes of joy, the good which you have given to me and my house (Deuteronomy 26:11)—INCLUDING the house!  

 

* (Someone else’s expression–not mine—though I wish it was.)

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