God Bless You This Thanksgiving and Always!

thanksgiving-blessing

A Child's Trust

“Trials and suffering can actually refine and deepen gratefulness if we allow them to show us not to take things for granted. Our national holiday of gratitude, Thanksgiving, was born and grew out of hard times. The first Thanksgiving took place after nearly half the pilgrims died from a rough winter and year. It became a national holiday in 1863 in the middle of the Civil War and was moved to its current date in the 1930s following the Depression.” (“How Gratitude Can Help You Through Hard Times” by Robert Emmons)

A Child's Trust

A Thanksgiving Prayer
by Helen Steiner Rice

Thank You, God, for everything …
The big things and the small,
For “every good gift comes from God” …
The Giver of them all.

And all too often we accept
Without any thanks or praise,
The gifts You send as blessings
Each day in many ways.

And so at this Thanksgiving time,
We offer up a prayer;
To thank You, God, for giving us
A lot more than our share.

First, thank You for the little things
That often come our way;
The things we take for granted
And don’t mention when we pray.

The unexpected courtesy,
The thoughtful, kindly deed,
A hand reached out to help us …
In the time of sudden need.

Oh, make us more aware, dear God,
Of little daily graces,
That come to us with “sweet surprise,”
From never-dreamed-of places.

Then, thank You for the “miracles”
We are much too blind to see,
And give us new awareness
Of our many gifts from Thee.

And help us to remember
That the “key” to “life” and “living,”
Is to make each prayer a “prayer of thanks,”
And every day THANKSGIVING.

cutecolorsrainbow

“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above;
it comes down from the Father of lights
[the Creator and Sustainer of the heavens],
in whom there is no variation [no rising or setting]
or shadow cast by His turning
[for He is perfect and never changes].”
James 1:17

A Child's Trust

Perhaps because of difficult circumstances, troubles, or losses, you’re having a hard time feeling thankful at all. Maybe your cry is, “Why, God? Where are You? Do You even care about me?”

Yes, Jesus cares. Deeply. He knows what you’re going through. He understands you better than anyone ever can or will. He cries with you. He opens His arms wide and longs for you to rest in His love for you.

Does Jesus Care?

“Does Jesus care when my heart is pained
Too deeply for mirth or song,
As the burdens press,
And the cares distress,
And the way grows weary and long?

O yes, He cares, I know He cares,
His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary,
The long night dreary,
I know my Savior cares.”

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Ugly Becomes Beautiful Through God’s Lens

God's-Lens

As I glanced out the patio door, a beautiful butterfly fluttered down. My heart quickened, and I bent down and carefully peeked through the blinds.

What?! Are my eyes playing tricks on me? All I saw was a dead, colorless, rumpled leaf. But the picture of a butterfly is still vivid in my memory. Bright yellow with black veins running through it. Almost like a monarch, only yellow instead of orange.

It must be a special gift from God. Butterflies always remind me of His faithful love. He whispers, “Yes, My child, I am here. Always. I will take care of you.”

It’s a blessing when we can look through God’s special lens to see beauty in the ugly.

When we look at the pain and devastation in our lives through our own lens, we feel so fragile, crushed, and forsaken. We may feel like that shriveled up leaf. Tossed about. Dried up. Insignificant.

We will see differently when we put on God’s lens of love:

A dried up leaf becomes a dazzling butterfly.

Jesus and the sacrifice He has given for us becomes reality as our ugliness transforms into a lovely child of God, so precious in His sight.

His compassion soothes our hearts as we learn how perfectly He understands us and how He collects every single tear into His bottle.

The ashes of loss and broken dreams brush into place in the masterpiece the Divine Artist is painting.

We see God is still on the throne, and He works every single pain for our good and to His glory.

When we’re downhearted, depressed, and in despair, it’s hard to see that God really does love us and is always with us no matter what. But if we can surrender our lens of lies into His hands and reach out in faith to gaze through His lens, we see the truth that His love transforms us into beautiful butterflies. We see He is faithfully holding us together. We see His promise of a glorious future.

Then we can trust all the answers to our questions will surely come in His time and way. We can stop holding onto our own way and let ourselves be held in His grace-filled arms. Is it easy? No. But He promises to give us the strength we need to keep taking one step at a time.

“For God so [greatly] loved and dearly prized the world,
that He [even] gave His [One and] only begotten Son,
so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior]
shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
John 3:16 AMP

“You keep track of all my sorrows.
You have collected all my tears in Your bottle.
You have recorded each one in Your book.”
Psalm 56:8 NLT

“And we know that in all things God works
for the good of those who love Him,
who have been called according to His purpose.”
Romans 8:28 NIV

A Child's Trust “Just Be Held”
by Casting Crowns

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Creativity: Courage to Saddle Up In Spite of Self-Doubt and Fear

youarebeautiful

“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”
― Sylvia Plath

Self-doubt can be such a roadblock to letting out the creative spirit God has placed in each of us. When we lack confidence, we put a stopper on the full potential we are meant for. I think of a rose bud ready to bloom. That bud was created in each of us, fully intended to bloom into unforeseen beauty. But we ignore that it’s even there or we cut it off because we reason it won’t amount to much anyway.

To be creative, we need to step out of the box, the traditional rules and regulations, and let our God-given imagination create new ideas and forms. But it’s so hard when we struggle with perfectionism.

Perfectionism sets high standards that can never be reached. And since we’re too afraid to fail or we’re afraid of rejection or criticism, we may easily give up or sometimes we don’t dare to even begin. We constantly self-evaluate and always come up short. Never good enough. We can try something but give up because we “can’t get it right.”

I’ll be honest. I’m struggling to be brave, to let this long-buried creativity inside of me come out. I am trying to reclaim that imagination I had as a little girl. I remember how I used to love creating things from terrariums to a frog habitat out of my mom’s old canning canister. But somewhere along life’s journey, hurts stifled this passion in me. What I loved got nipped in the bud.

A few months ago I heard about art journaling. I looked into it more, and it drew me in. But I was afraid to start. I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s like something deep inside me wants to break free and be brave and create with abandon no matter how it looks, but the perfectionist part of me keeps criticizing and telling me to give it up.

Then in one of (In)Courage’s abuse support groups, one of the leaders brought up art journaling and shared one of her pages. A meaningful and healing discussion developed, and I was nudged to go forward with it. I even got brave enough to share my first page with the group. And I learned that many found healing through expressing themselves whether in art journaling or other pursuits like quilting, cross-stitching, etc.

artjournal

When I shared my first page with the group, perfectionism said – Don’t do it. It’s not good enough. And voices of the past bombarded me with: That’s so vain. Pride is a sin. This is all self-serving.

It can be so wearisome to keep replacing past lies of self-debasement with Truth, but we can’t let those lies drag us down. I constantly have to remind myself to look at myself through God’s eyes – to believe that in Jesus I have priceless value. Enough for Him to even die for. The same is true for each of you.

So I experimented with some sponges and paints, photocopied and encircled my one-year-old picture, and pasted Truth clouds to remind me of who I am in Christ Jesus. 

There’s something about it that feels so freeing even though I wasn’t completely satisfied with the result. I’ll admit I have already torn out a page and started over, but I’m trying to learn not to. Art journaling is supposed to be about the process, not the product. It’s about self-expression and self-discovery, about letting that hidden creativity come out. About trusting we don’t have to be perfect. God accepts us just as we are, broken and imperfect.

Art Journal 2

Some days when Satan shoots his fiery darts of self-doubt and self-debasement at us, we have to keep reminding ourselves of God’s Truth. My second page was one of those days… I used markers, colored pencils, stickers and a cut-out butterfly. And as I tried to just let myself go with God’s promises, Satan had to flee, and I felt renewed.

I know I have a long way to go in this self-expressing and self-discovering journey. In order to heal more deeply, I also need to let go of and express the deep pains inside of me. But this is a start. Eventually I hope I will loosen up in spite of insecurity, perfectionism, and fear.

Courage is taking risks even if we’re afraid of the outcome. As John Wayne said, “Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.” It is in the saddling up anyway and allowing our hearts to take risks that we grow and learn the most about who God is and who He has created us to be.

Do you struggle with self-doubt?

Do you beat yourself up with the “not-good-enoughs?

Do you feel like the real you is trapped inside of you? Crying to get out?

Can you think of something you loved to do as a child?

How about a dream you gave up because you figured you could never be good enough?

Is there something you long to do but you’re too afraid you will fail?

Let’s saddle up anyway.

If we fall off, let’s dust ourselves off, and hop right back on.

“Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.”
– C. S. Lewis

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21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace

Whitespace Writing Prompt:
“Take time to enjoy doing something creative or artistic.
Share what you did, how it felt and what you discovered.”