When It’s Hard To Be Thankful

 

It isn’t always easy to be thankful, is it? When physical or emotional pain and/or losses overwhelm us, it can be hard to see through our tears or focus our minds on blessings right in front of us. 

Hagar was an alien and a slave. When her mistress found herself barren, she was given to Abraham to bear a child for her. But dissension escalated, especially after Sarah birthed a child herself. Sarah no longer wanted Hagar’s son around her son Isaac.

Hagar and Ishmael were rejected and sent away to wander in the hot and dry desert with only some water in a skin and some food to sustain them. But the water emptied…

She couldn’t bear to see her son suffer and die of thirst, so she put him under one of the bushes and distanced herself.

Dehydrated and devastated of hope, she sat down and sobbed. Did no one hear her and her son? Did no one care?

“What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there.” Hope heralded in by an Angel of God.

Someone did care. She wasn’t alone. God heard Ishmael’s cries. He heard Hagar’s cries. He hears the cries of the needy.

“For He will deliver the needy who cry out,
the afflicted who have no one to help.”
Psalm 72:12

God lifted her drooping head and opened her tear-swollen eyes to see it. A well. Right in front of her.

Hagar got up, filled her water skin, and gave her son a drink.

We, too, may sometimes feel empty and hopeless. Spiritually parched. Physically exhausted. Blinded by the tears of our grief over the losses and struggles in our lives. How can we ever be thankful?

If we look into our discouraged hearts or at our bleak circumstances (or that of others), we will surely despair of hope. We won’t see the well of blessings God has placed in front of us. We won’t see that God really is good and is full of love and compassion towards us. We won’t see that He actually is for us, not against us.

God longs to be gracious to us. He tenderly lifts our weary hearts to see His bottomless well of love. He invites us to drink, long and freely.

“Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
therefore He will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for Him!”
Isaiah 30:18

Jesus’ love and compassion will never empty. They will always be more than enough for us. No matter what. He heard Hagar’s and Ishmael’s cries, and He will hear our cries. He didn’t forget them, and He won’t forget us.

Precious Lord, You know the heart of every person. You know the heavy burdens weighing us down. Please lift us and carry us through this Thanksgiving season and always. Open the eyes of our hearts to Your never-emptying well of love and empower us to drink from it. Send fullness in spite of empty places we feel and strength and peace amid the struggles of this life. Please help us to truly believe You are good, You are love, and You are for us. Thank You for Your patience with us and for never condemning us. Help us to express our gratitude to You by releasing our burdens into Your hands and trusting Your plan for us. Open our eyes, too, to see all that we still have and still are able to do. Thank You so much for Your unconditional love, Your endless patience with us, and Your ever-flowing and over-flowing grace!

“Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”
by Chris Tomlin

New This Month: Links, Quotes, Books & More

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“My Shoes”
Have you ever wished you were in someone else’s shoes?

“I know what I’m doing.
I have it all planned out—
plans to take care of you, not abandon you,
plans to give you the future you hope for.”
Jeremiah 29:11 The Message

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ABCs of Jesus’ Love

Visit this page anytime and let me know if you’d like to add to the words describing Jesus’ love along with a verse supporting it. Remember, there is also a print-out of the original list.

 This month I have added another “C” Word:

❤︎ Cleansing Love ❤︎
“I will cleanse them from all the sin
they have committed against Me
and will forgive all their sins
of rebellion against Me.

Jeremiah 33:8

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Books

I am not always able to keep up with the abundance of books that promote hope, healing, and freedom, so I haven’t always read every one I post here and on the Books Page. Though many are on my long wish list. 🙂  Many will be from recommendations of online friends. If you ever know of a book that is not listed and that supports this website’s mission, please let me know. 🙂

Wings of Glass by Gina Holmes

From the bestselling author of Crossing Oceans comes a heart-rending yet uplifting story of friendship and redemption. On the cusp of womanhood, Penny  is swept off her feet by a handsome farmhand with a confident swagger. Though Trent Taylor seems like Prince Charming and offers an escape from her one-stop-sign-town, Penny’s happily ever after lasts no longer than their breakneck courtship. Before the ink even dries on their marriage certificate, he hits her for the first time. It isn’t the last, yet the bruises that can’t be seen are the most painful of all.

When Trent is injured in a welding accident and his paycheck stops, he has no choice but to finally allow Penny to take a job cleaning houses. Here she meets two women from very different worlds who will teach her to live and laugh again, and lend her their backbones just long enough for her to grow her own.

I highly recommend this book! Christian fiction doesn’t often bring awareness to the reality of domestic violence, but this author brought forth a story so gripping and real that it was almost like a victim telling her story. She doesn’t sugar-coat the painful world of domestic violence and the psychological hold many abusers have on their victims. 

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Hope Harbor

💞  Links That Inspire Hope and Healing 💞

Worry, anxiety, and stress can be so hard to avoid sometimes. Especially when you’re a professional worrywart and over-analyzer like me… Situations in our world, country, and families can cause so much anxiety, can’t they? I’m still a work-in-progress of casting all my cares on Jesus and trusting Him with everything. But truly, Jesus is the Answer to peace and freedom.

💞  Tips to Manage Anxiety and Stress  – A chart of sensible tips from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America

💞  How to Stop Worrying – 13 Practical Steps by Whitney Hopler – “So many of us, even those strong in faith wonder how they can stop worrying. Living in a fallen world gives you lots to worry about, but living in a relationship with Jesus can free you from ever having to worry about anything. No matter what happens in your life, you don’t have to worry about it if you choose to rely on Jesus to help you manage it and find peace in the process.”

💞  Worry and Anxiety Bible Verses – “Find comfort and peace through Scripture that promises you hope and a future. Learn how to be free from worry and anxiety by meditating on the Word and casting your cares upon Jesus!”

Nature Retreat

“In every walk with nature
one receives far more than he seeks.”

~ John Muir

I have some more of my brother’s awesome Arizona photos to share. Desert flowers, a rattlesnake, bees, and… Hold your nose! Stink bug beetles getting ready to shoot out stink bombs.

🐾  NANPA: North American Nature Photography Association Blog – The nature photos at these blog posts are spectacular. The stories with them promote nature photography as a medium of communication, nature appreciation, and environmental protection.

🐾  Art in Nature Photography – “Floris van Breugel is passionate about exploring nature and sharing his unique perspective through photography with the aim of inspiring viewers to learn more about the natural world.” His photos truly do give inspiring views of nature.

🐾  Abbott Nature Photography – Galleries of a variety of amazing nature photos (wildlife, macro photos of insects, and more) by John and Kendra Abbott.

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Quotes

All quotes this month are in the gratitude category.

❤︎ “The more grateful I am, the more beauty I see. ~ Mary Davis

❤︎ “God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say ‘thank you?’ ~ William Arthur Ward

❤︎ “Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” ~ Robert Brault

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New This Month: Links, Quotes, Books & More

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“If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.”
~ Emily Dickinson
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ccjesusloves

ABCs of Jesus’ Love

Visit this page anytime and let me know if you’d like to add to the words describing Jesus’ love along with a verse supporting it. Remember, there is also a print-out of the original list.

 This month I have added another “C” Word:

❤︎ Covenant Love ❤︎
“Understand, therefore,
that the Lord your God is indeed God.
He is the faithful God who keeps His covenant
for a thousand generations and
lavishes His unfailing love on those
who love Him and obey His commands.

Deuteronomy 7:9 NLT

bearreadingbook

Books

I am not always able to keep up with the abundance of books that promote hope, healing, and freedom, so I haven’t always read every one I post here and on the Books Page. Though many are on my long wish list. 🙂 Many will be from recommendations of online friends. If you ever know of a book that is not listed and that supports this website’s mission, please let me know. 🙂

Battered Hope by Carol Graham

One of you readers, Martha Orlando, highly recommends this book. She writes:

“Carol’s life story is full of tragedies and turns for the worst.  Yet, her strong faith and hope in God’s promises see her through life-shattering situations that would crush many of us.  Her ability, with God’s help, to overcome multiple obstacles is absolutely inspirational to any who read Battered Hope.  Although Carol’s hope was battered, it never shattered!”

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Hope Harbor

💞  Links That Inspire Hope and Healing 💞

💞  Bright Hope in Dark Days by Charles Spurgeon – A short devotion – “We need winds and tempests to exercise our faith, to tear off the rotten bough of self-dependence, and to root us more firmly in Christ.”

💞  Grief: Finding Hope in the Darkness by Paul David Tripp – “This article is written to help you make sense out of what appears to make no sense and to point you towards hope even as you are experiencing the darkness of death.”

💞  Finding Light in the Darkness – A Psychology Today article by Diana Raab – “It has been said that we cannot know the light without experiencing the darkness, but at the same time, both dark and light experiences may be considered great teachers. Growth and transformation, in fact, are born out of darkness.”

Nature Retreat

“Our task must be to free ourselves
by widening our circle of compassion
to embrace all living creatures
and the whole of nature and its beauty.”

~ Albert Einstein

This month’s treasures are all recent photos from my brother in Arizona: a bobcat, gambel’s quails, a green heron, harris hawks, a hummingbird in its nest, and a western screech-owl.

🐾  Pixdaus: Nature Photography – Though there are some photos of people, the core focus of this site is the uploading and sharing of amazing nature photos.

🐾  50 States – 50 Natural Wonders – CNN showcases a natural wonder in each of the 50 states. Some are world-renowned and undeniably spectacular, while others are less-discovered gems. Each of their favorite spots, in its way, helps define its home state.

🐾  Daniel Buck Fine Art Photography – Galleries of amazing Alaska photography – Daniel’s “vision as an artist is for his audience to connect with the natural world around them and foster a greater appreciation for the stunning world that we all call home.”

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Quotes

All quotes this month are in the compassion category.

❤︎ “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. ~ Leo Buscaglio

❤︎ “I would rather make mistakes in kindness and compassion than work miracles in unkindness and hardness. ~ Mother Teresa

❤︎ “A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.” ~ Steve Maraboli

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