Tuesday, March 29, 2016

My thankfulness addiction

I'm thankful:
1. I feel sad when I don't record my thankfulnesses every day. I wonder if that means I'm a thankfulness addict? At least a thankfulness journal addict. It's still a challenge to have a truly thankful heart all the time. But worth working on!
2. for a book I'm reading called, "Healthy Brain, Happy Life" by Wendy Suzuki. She is a neuroscientist who specializes in studying how exercise affects the brain--it's good for it! Not only does it increase several good brain chemicals but it also increases neurogenesis and cognitive function. Now I really want to exercise more.
3. that John ran the dishwasher tonight
4. that my head stopped hurting
5. that the package (my sim card for my new smart phone) arrived safely today. (mail and packages often get misdirected by a certain delivery company. But this time they did well! yay!)

Monday, March 28, 2016

Blue Bonnets

"Above all else, guard your heart,
    for it is the wellspring of life." Proverbs 4:23 NIV

So much bad news in the world. It's hard not to feel swamped by it. Also hard to remember that there really are things to be thankful for. I've found that when it's hardest, then is when it is especially important to try.

So here goes:
1. I'm thankful that my brother could come down for Easter dinner yesterday. We had a nice visit together here and went and saw our Mom too.
2. That I was able to do a bit more work on checking our taxes today.
3. Tonight John and I worked on correcting the errors I found in our taxes--without getting mad at each other! 
4. We had our annual hike to see the blue bonnets in the Cedar Ridge Preserve Saturday. It was a perfect day for it. They seemed even more beautiful than usual.
5. John ordered my new cell phone. It should arrive soon.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The perfect quote

"Be thankful for the smallest blessing, and you will deserve to receive greater. Value the least gifts no less than the greatest, and simple graces as especial favors. If you remember the dignity of the Giver, no gift will seem small or mean, for nothing can be valueless that is given by the most high God." --Thomas a' Kempis
I came across this quote tonight in Jan Karon's book, "A New Song." How does she do it? She always manages to have the perfect quotes.

I'm thankful:
1. That I discovered the leak and puddle of water under our kitchen sink before it had caused any more damage. Near as we can tell it's because the built in soap dispenser had come loose and when I washed the sink, water came through. Good thing I don't wash it very often or the damage would be much worse! :-)
2. That the bone around my dental implant is forming well and I'll be able to get the tooth part attached soon.
3. That I was able to do some more down-sizing a couple of days ago. I've nearly managed to condense two boxes of cards, letters and mementos into one. Hoping I can reduce them down a bit more. There are lots more where those came from, though. But every little bit helps!
4. We have almost settled on a "smart" phone to replace my old flip phone. The flip phone seems to be falling apart which is providing more incentive to finally settle on one and be done with it.
5. for the fun lunch with my friend S. today.

Monday, March 21, 2016

thankfulness at bedtime

Listing thankfulnesses before bedtime is supposed to aid sleep.

I'm thankful,
1. we got a lot done on our Wycliffe brochure tonight
2. had a nice chat with T this weekend
3. wrote in blog this morning
4. John and I had some quality time this weekend ;-)
5. John finished first draft of taxes this weekend (now I need to check it)

Let's start a revolution!

The last several days I've been feeling awfully grumpy. Did some research on gratitude to try and jump start my thankfulness muscles.

Found this excellent article by Amy Morin, titled "7 Scientifically Proven Benefits Of Gratitude That Will Motivate You To Give Thanks Year-Round" In it she reports that, gratitude improves physical and psychological health. It reduces toxic emotions such as envy, resentment, frustration and regret. It increases happiness and reduces depression. It enhances empathy, reduces aggression, and improves sleep. Studies have also shown that gratitude "not only reduces stress, but it may also play a major role in overcoming trauma."

I also discovered that various religious thinkers and philosophers for many centuries have considered ingratitude as the "root of all evil." Reading the definition of "ingratitude" I noticed that the word "nonrecognition" is listed as a synonym. The definition of "nonrecognition:" includes this: "refusal to acknowledge the existence, validity, or legality of something."

Sounds like Paul in Romans 1:21: "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him."

Not glorifying him as God sounds like "nonrecognition." If nonrecognition is a synonym for ingratitude then Paul seems to be saying: They were ungrateful and thankless! Repetition is a way of emphasizing a point.

What did this ingratitude and thanklessness lead to? "...their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened." Then begins a litany of all the evil that resulted from their foolish, thankless, darkened hearts.

And in verses 28-29, "...Since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God,"  Sounds like "nonrecognition" again. The result was, "They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity" Then follows an all inclusive list of all types of sins. Contrary to popular belief Romans chapter one is not just about one type of people doing one type of sin!

It's a warning to all of us, yes--even Christians, that when we are ungrateful to God we too will descend into dark, foolish thinking and evil behavior.

It doesn't even take very long. Even just a few days of ingratitude can lead to some pretty dark thinking. Just try it some time... Just kidding! I'm sure none of us need encouragement to be ungrateful.

Instead let's start a revolution of gratefulness to God!

St. Ignatius believed ingratitude to be “the cause, beginning, and origin of all evils and sins.” - See more at: http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/21869/the-sin-of-ingratitude#sthash.V2OJRbJ8.dpu
St. Ignatius believed ingratitude to be “the cause, beginning, and origin of all evils and sins.” - See more at: http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/21869/the-sin-of-ingratitude#sthash.V2OJRbJ8.dpuf

Monday, March 14, 2016

Christ's love beyond understanding

"I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:14-19

I'm thankful,
1. God's glorious riches are at my disposal
2. That God is strengthening me in my inner being
3. For Christ who is dwelling in my heart
4. For the love of Christ that is so wide and long and high and deep that it is beyond may ability to understand or fully express
5. That God desires to fill me with his fullness

I can't put enough exclamation points in here to express my feelings as I write this. I would have to put them after each point. So please just add them in your mind as you read this!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Being thankful even if I don't want to

I'm thankful,

1. Although I didn't like the way it was done or the reasons given, I'm thankful we have been relieved of our commitment to work in toddlers and nursery this year

2. for clarity regarding deciding about trip to Israel. I don't think I can handle the stresses involved in making a big, busy, demanding trip right now, so we need to cancel it. Maybe we can just take a virtual tour. Last night we had fun looking at photos and info on-line about the various sites the tour group will be going to. We also have all those boxes of slides from John's long-ago trip to Israel and Greece that we've been planning to scan and digitize sometime.

3. That God is in control even if it doesn't feel like it

4. For my patient husband who is willing to cancel our plans--even if we don't get a full refund.

5. That being thankful really is good for me even when I don't feel like it.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Red Bellied Woodpecker back

I saw the red-bellied wood pecker again. He was in our next door neighbor's tree. It was too far away for a photo. But it's nice to know he is still in the neighborhood.

We don't get many colorful birds in our area. Blue jays are about it. On rare occasions I'll see a pair of cardinals. Audubon says red bellied woodpeckers are, "Most common in deciduous forest, especially along rivers and in swamps." I wonder if they are here now because of all the building going on in our area. Acres of forests and wetlands are being replaced with gargantuan warehouses.

I hate to see it. Acres of stark impersonal buildings--no windows, no store fronts, no architectural embellishments, no parking lots, no people, no landscaping, no color, just miles of high blank beige walls with--seemingly--no doors. It's hard to imagine any people working in them. Driving past, I feel like I've landed on another planet. It gives me the shivers. John said it's because of the internet. Everybody buys on-line now.

It's almost enough to make me want to stop buying on-line. Almost. But it's hard to beat the convenience. I have the world at my fingertips. Anything we need or want is just a few clicks away. For example, each month, with the push of a few buttons, from the comfort of my recliner, I can order my Mom's incontinent supplies and have them shipped directly to her residential care home. And sometimes things are only available on-line. So what's the answer? I don't know. I just wish we could keep our forests and wetlands and still order things on-line. If you are in a place that hasn't been invaded by acres of giant ware-houses, be thankful.

I'm thankful,
1. The red bellied woodpeckers are able to adapt to the loss of the forests and wetlands (see above Audubon page)
2. John fixed the problem we were having printing financial reports this weekend.
3. We got our accounts in Quicken reconciled through the end of 2015.
4. I restarted my cassette digitizing project and finished digitizing the church history series.
5. We took a walk yesterday and I did not have trouble with my foot. Maybe I will be able to cope with our trip to Israel in May.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

O for a thousand tongues

The hymn, "O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing" has been on my mind the last few days. It's featured in my devotional reading today.

I looked it up and learned that, it comes from an 18 stanza poem that Charles Wesley wrote in 1739 to celebrate the one year anniversary of a profound renewal of his faith. He had been seriously ill and was plagued with doubts. A group of Christians ministered to his physical needs and shared their testimonies with him. As he read his Bible, Wesley was deeply affected and found peace with God. His strength began to return soon after that.* 

"Wesley acquired the title phrase of this text from Peter Böhler, a Moravian, who said to Wesley, 'If I had a thousand tongues, I would praise Christ with them all'"** 

I pray that I will have so much love for God that I will praise him more with the one tongue that I do have! 

I found the original 18 stanza poem written by Wesley on Wikisource. Here are the first six stanzas that he wrote for the poem to commemorate his spiritual renewal. Although they aren't included in our hymnals, they are well worth reading. I love how they both teach the Gospel and tell the story of his renewal. I especially like the fifth stanza. I too feel a crescendo of joy welling up in my spirit, along with the author, as I read of Christ's atoning blood and love for me. The verses we sing are taken from the remaining 12 stanzas. The title phrase occurs in the first line of the seventh stanza.
"Glory to God, and praise and love
Be ever, ever given,
By saints below and saints above,
The church in earth and heaven.

On this glad day the glorious Sun
Of Righteousness arose;
On my benighted soul He shone
And filled it with repose.

Sudden expired the legal strife,
’Twas then I ceased to grieve;
My second, real, living life
I then began to live.

Then with my heart I first believed,
Believed with faith divine,
Power with the Holy Ghost received
To call the Savior mine.

I felt my Lord’s atoning blood
Close to my soul applied;
Me, me He loved, the Son of God,
For me, for me He died!

I found and owned His promise true,
Ascertained of my part,
My pardon passed in heaven I knew
When written on my heart."
Then the part we sing starts here:
My hymnal has 5 verses. I found this version on Hymnary.org  It comes from "Lutheran Service Book" 2006. Wesley's poem of course has about 12 more stanzas to go, but that seems a little long to quote here.

1 Oh, for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer's praise,
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace!

2 My gracious Master and my God,
Assist me to proclaim,
To spread through all the earth abroad,
The honors of Thy name.

3 Jesus! The name that charms our fears,
That bids our sorrows cease;
'Tis music in the sinner's ears,
'Tis life and health and peace.

4 He breaks the pow'r of canceled sin;
He sets the pris'ner free.
His blood can make the foulest clean;
His blood avails for me.

5 Look unto Him, ye nations; own
Your God, ye fallen race.
Look and be saved through faith alone,
Be justified by grace.

6 See all your sins on Jesus laid;
The Lamb of God was slain;
His soul was once an off'ring made
For ev'ry soul of man.

7 To God all glory, praise, and love
Be now and ever giv'n
By saints below and saints above,
The Church in earth and heav'n.

My hymnal also includes, "Hear Him, ye deaf; His praise, ye dumb, Your loosened tongues employ; Ye blind, behold your Savior come; And leap, ye lame, for joy."  

*You can read more about the song and Wesley's renewal at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O_for_a_Thousand_Tongues_to_Sing

**"(Böhler was actually quoting from Johann Mentzner's German hymn 'O dass ich tausend Zungen hätte')."  http://www.hymnary.org/text/o_for_a_thousand_tongues_to_sing_my