See the sky and hills!

See the sky and hills!
In Quiet Moments Here

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Thank You For?

Have you heard of an "attitude of gratitude"?  I have, but I certainly am struggling with it now.  I'm especially bound by two niggling little (comparatively speaking) issues.  First, I'm not fully recovered from my November 29th surgery. "Come on, it's been 7 weeks!" I say in my grumpiest voice, though most often I'm only talking to myself, or maybe I'm talking to God.  I don't appreciate my own complaining, so I suppose God doesn't either.  The other issue I'm not too appreciative of is the winter weather.  Most people I meet are thankful that we are having a much milder, less snowy winter than usual here in Wisconsin.  Well, I still don't like it; I hate being cold!

I was reading today in a magazine from the Disabled American Veterans; the chaplain wrote a message in there for me.  Just in case it might be for you as well, I'll share some of it.  This is from the National Chaplain, Dr. Charles W. Edwards, Jr.

  • Be thankful that you don't already have everything you desire.  If you did, what would there be to look forward to?
  • Be thankful when you don't know something, for it gives you the opportunity to learn.
  • Be thankful for your limitations, because they give you opportunities for improvement.
  • Be thankful for each new challenge, because it will build your strength and character.
  • Be thankful for your mistakes.  They will teach you valuable lessons.
  • It's easy to be thankful for the good things.  A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are also thankful for the setbacks.
These are words that I needed today.  What is it that you don't want to be thankful for?  Are you ready for that "rich fulfillment" the chaplain talks about?  I hope I can learn this soon.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A Simple Prayer

In the past few months, we have somehow come across a prayer book entitled Grace Before Meals.  The most remarkable part about it, to us, is that it was published 100 years ago, in 1911.  Growing up in a family and a church where we usually practiced the habit of spontaneous prayers, rather than those that were read or memorized, the book didn't at first have an appeal to me.  In celebration of that 100-year book birthday, however, we decided to give it a try, and found it to be amazing in its relevancy to times of today, its beauty in the the Old King James language, and its reminders of how even a simple grace before meals can end up being not simple.  For example, "Wherein we have failed to please Thee, O God, do Thou grant Thy pardon."  These words would not ordinarily be inserted into my "thank-you" before eating a meal, but I'm grateful to be reminded of their importance.

On the other end of the prayer spectrum, I was reminded of a prayer that my friend Hallie, in her blog, said she has hanging on the wall of her home; it is in modern language, and centered on one theme.  "Let me live in such a way that those who know me but don't know God will come to know God because they know me."  These words are hard to get around, difficult to forget.

From the profound to the simple, from the simple to the profound, occasions for prayer are all around us, and prayer is not difficult. Thinking of prayer as difficult is a stumbling block for many, however, and I believe it is in those instances that the Lord is standing by, waiting for one of his children to teach, to lead the way to His ears.

I think often of my cousin Joey, who became a casualty of the VietNam war, but a few years earlier spent several weeks with his "up north" cousins.  My youth group was accustomed to going around the circle lifting up prayers until everyone had the opportunity to offer a prayer.  Joe quickly whispered to me, "When it's my turn, you'll have to tell me what to say!"  We came out of that meeting with Joey's pride intact, but I'm sure I missed many opportunities to demonstrate to him just how easy he could make those prayers for himself.  I don't know to this day whether I will be able to meet him in heaven, but I do know that I had a responsibility to him, and I'm sure I did not make the most of that responsibility.

How simple it really is to speak to God, our creator!  How great it is also that He is always listening for our every word. Simple words may have deep meaning, and I again wish to offer Hallie's simple prayer, "Let me live in such a way that those who know me but don't know God will come to know God because they know me."

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Recovery Work

Still in that recovery phase of my surgery that now feels like it was "really" a long time ago, I have let my writing slide just as I've let slide many other important duties.  It came to my realization today, however, that I've been waiting for things to be easier, to just "flooooooooooooow"!  In doing that, I left God out of the equation again.  If I just had made a habit of talking to him, saying "Father, I don't feel like doing anything today, but I know there are many things I could do.  Will you please help me decide what is most important today, and then give me strength to do that, even if it is just one thing.  Help me, guide me, enable me, Father, for I really need you."  In retrospect, that wasn't hard at all, but I didn't do it.  I remember a couple of desperate pleas, "Please Jesus, HELP ME!"  I don't remember the calm request that would have given a calm reply, and a certainty that whatever He wanted me to do, He would enable me to do.

As an important part of my recovery, I want to learn from my mistakes.  I want to learn to never leave God out of my plans, however simple they may be.  There are things to do and people to talk with every day and every hour of my life.  God has planned for me to be a helpmate and a servant, and there's no time to take a month off.  In our weakness, God says He will give strength.  And all I have to do is ASK.