I’VE FALLEN AND I’VE GOTTEN UP!

Embarrassment is so much a part of our thinking, isn’t it?  We want others to think the best of us and certainly don’t want them to see us do something stupid!  However, there are times in our lives when we do things by accident that still cause us embarrassment.  Last night was that night for me.  I was scheduled to do the closing interview for my current intern in front of the those who attended our Summer Fun Night!  That’s no big deal to me. I’ve talked in front of many people on many occasions.  I’ve said some embarrassing things in some of those times. Actually, I didn’t even realize what I said at the time I was saying it!  There are those who do remember those times and now it causes us to laugh a great deal.  My embarrassment has become a source of fun! But then there’s last night!

I looked at the schedule of events and then looked at our emcee for the evening, it was time for me to go up to the front of the gym.  I stood up and began my first step and my foot caught on the purse strap hanging out from under my chair.  I started to fall and there was nothing I could do to stop it.  I landed all my weight on my left knee with my head in the lap of one of the ladies sitting across from me.  I sat up for a moment then moved my knee. It moved, so I got up to continue on my trek to the front.  At that moment there were people all around me wanting to know how they could help.  One particular person said to me that I fell gracefully.  I’ll take that as a compliment.  I was just relieved that I didn’t rip my pants.  The more people who came to my rescue, the more embarrassed I was.  How could I have fallen like that in a crowd of people?  People saw me!!

People see us.  We can’t get away from that fact!  They see us in many different situations and make conclusions from what they see.  I was sure many were thinking some of the following:

            “Boy, is she ever clumsy!”

            “You know she’s over 60, brittle bones!”

            “How stupid was that to put your purse under your chair!”

Our minds can run away with us when we’re embarrassed.  We begin to make scripts of what is going on in the minds of others.  Even though we don’t know what they’re thinking, we’re pretty sure we do.  Then we judge others by what we think they are thinking!  The result is embarrassment about who we are and what we did rather than thoughts of good toward others.  This is not how the Lord wants us to respond.

Accidents happen to all of us.  We fall, hit a car with our car, drop a glass, or spill our milk.  Our lives are filled with opportunities for embarrassment.  The Lord looks at us and wants to see how we handle each one.  Do we begin to think negative thoughts about others?  Do we just want to withdraw from life?  Do we get angry and allow it to spill out in to every aspect of our lives?  We have choices on how to handle it when we’re not measuring up to what we think we ought to be.  The choices are as follows:

  1.  God has not left the building.  As I fell to the floor, God was there!  He hadn’t left me alone so I would fall.  He promises that, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5b In our most embarrassing moments we have to remember God.  We get so large in our thinking that we crowd out thoughts of God.  We MUST be aware that he MEANS what he says.  He is with us!
  2.  I’m not perfect.  I can say that I know I’m not perfect, but I don’t really mean it.  When I do something like fall in front of people, my mind tells me that I should have been able to walk without falling.  I’m strong and agile.  I’m healthy for my age.  I shouldn’t fall! This is not truth.  The truth is I’m older and not as steady on my feet as I used to be.  The truth is, “So we do not lose heart.   Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16 My body is wasting away which puts me closer to eternity!  I need to rejoice in the eternity to come for me because Jesus, who was perfect, lived and died in my place.
  3.  Gratitude is crucial!  When I fell, I allowed my embarrassment to miss all the people who wanted to help and ease my pain.  I said “thank you” but my embarrassment was overruling my gratitude in my mind.  We need to always be looking for what God is doing through others on our behalf.  He gives us so many people to be grateful for in our lives.  We can’t allow embarrassment to overrule gratitude.

Today I’m grateful for all those who came to my rescue.  They wanted to help me and that is so encouraging.  The body of Christ is to rub shoulders together, helping and lifting others up.  I got up but if I hadn’t been able to, there were many who would have picked me up.  I heard three times last night that I fell with grace.  I know that it was the grace of God given to me as I fell. May we each allow God’s grace to override our embarrassment as we look forward to that day of no more shame!

THANKSGIVING WITH GRATITUDE

It’s that time of year when an abundance of food is prepared and we stuff ourselves beyond our waistband.  Admit it, you unbutton that waistband or you wear elastic on Thanksgiving!  We enjoy our time with our families and friends, although this year may be different for us.  The name of the day isn’t “turkey day” but Thanksgiving day.  We need to get back to what this day should celebrate.  Not that I’m ready to give up my elastic band day at all.  I love to eat and enjoy food with others.  So what does it mean to get back to Thanksgiving?

I’m sure there have been times when you have gone around the table and asked everyone to share something for which they are thankful.  This is a great exercise and opportunity to discuss what God has done for you during the year.  Perhaps you’ve been at the table and someone takes what you were going to say.  You’re getting nervous trying to think of something else to say.  When it’s your turn you say the first thing that comes in your head.  It may not really be something for which you’ve considered being thankful.  Can you still be thankful for it?  Yes, you can, but this thankfulness doesn’t include gratitude.

Some of you may think I’m splitting hairs here and maybe I am.  I’ve been thinking about what the difference between thanks and gratitude really is.  Each of these words are used in the definition of the other, so they are closely related.  I think that gratitude has more to do with our attitude.  Gratitude is a warm deep appreciation that gives recognition to the value of the gift.  This sounds like an attitude of the heart to me.  I had to ask myself when the last time was that I spent time just really appreciating what God has done and continues to do in my life.  Thankfulness is part of my life but it’s not always accompanied by deep appreciation.  This takes thinking and time.  Most of us move from one thing to another and don’t take time to meditate on those things that give us cause to say thanks.  What am I suggesting?

David says in Psalm 143:5, “I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands.”  To meditate on something means to think deeply and carefully about it.  The result of meditating on all God has done is gratitude.  This is an attitude of our heart.  When we take the time to meditate, what flows out of us is thankfulness motivated by deep gratitude. motivating it.  Our thankfulness becomes deeper than words on a page.  Listing things we are thankful for is both good and needful. The purpose of the list is to get our mind headed in the right direction toward giving thanks.  However, the list can’t change our attitude until we take time to really chew on what God has done for us.

As we are unbuttoning our waistband, digesting our turkey, and watching football, let’s remember one thing God has done for us this year.  Then let’s meditate on it.  As we do this, we will begin to fill a warm deep appreciation for our God.  He knows each of us intimately so he knows what we need and when we need it.  That truth should bring a deep appreciation to each of us as we meditate on it.

“Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.” Psalm 145:3

PARENTING: DEVELOPING GRATEFUL CHILDREN

Originally Published:  1-23-2018

As we look at the subject of developing grateful children, we can’t forget the heart of our children.  We can seek to help to model gratefulness and teach them to give but that won’t necessarily change their hearts.  However, it’s what we have been called to do as parents.   Our job as God’s ambassadors is to teach and train our children in his ways.  It’s not an easy job, but God gives us grace to do the job to which he has called us. We can depend on him to lead us and strengthen us in this task.  Let’s look at some of the reasons we are all so ungrateful and then look to the Word of God for direction. We’ll end with some practical steps we can take to help develop gratitude in our children.

Reasons for being ungrateful

There are many words used to describe someone who is ungrateful.  The most obvious one is selfishness; which applies to all of us.  We get the idea that what we have is ours and only ours.  If we want it, we go after it.  This is because we want what we want.  This selfishness leads to entitlement.  A person who is entitled feels they deserve honor or title or things based on who they are.  In our families, entitlement can take place because it has been fueled by overabundance.  It’s easier to just give in to the demands of a child than to stand your ground.  This flows out of having the wrong goal; which is to make the child happy at any cost.  Our goal as Christian parents should never be about the child’s happiness.  We need to have the goal of pointing our children to Christ and exposing their need of a Savior.

Good Gifts

“…which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will you give him a serpent?  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”  Matthew 7:9-11

God, our Father, gives us good gifts.  A good gift is one that will be in our best interest.  The same is true for a child.  We may not respond with what children want.  The wants of your children can be a never ending list, just like our list of wants.  Sometimes the good gift is no gift.  Expectations of getting everything we desire and more doesn’t lend itself to thankfulness.  It tends more toward selfishness.  We have to be aware of over saturation in our child.  To pile gift on top of gift on top of gift presents the problem of not really being a gift anymore.  It is all too much.  In the scene from the movie, “The Christmas Story”, around the tree on Christmas morning, we see gifts flying, paper being thrown everywhere, gifts opened and then tossed over the shoulder in order to reach for the next one.  There is a point of saturation.  Look for it!  Be aware of it!  Giving too much doesn’t promote thankfulness.

Thankfulness, a command

“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.  And be thankful.”  Colossians 3:15

As followers of Christ, we are commanded to be thankful.  There is a connection with peace and being thankful here.  When we aren’t grateful we are unsettled and can be agitated because we aren’t satisfied.  Satisfaction brings peace and thankfulness breeds satisfaction.  If we are commanded to be thankful then it only makes sense that this is a characteristic we should to seek to teach our children.

Practical thoughts

  1. Model thankfulness – Does your child see you being thankful for the things in your life?  Do your children hear more grumbling from you than thankfulness?  A simple thank you to them will go a long way in showing them to be grateful.  Evaluate your own heart to see if you are being thankful.
  2. Thank you – These words should be taught to your children at a very young age. There are those who teach the sign for thank you to their babies.  Then after a while move along to the verbal.  This takes time but the habit of it begins to instill the need to be thankful.
  3. Life is not about you – This is something we have to constantly remind ourselves of as parents. What my child does or says is not about us!  We need to teach our children that life is not about them either. We are born thinking it’s about us!  Children need to be taught that life is about God.
  4. Verbal Vertical Gratitude – We need to take the time to rehearse the gifts God has given our families. The attention needs to be drawn to him as the provider of all we have.
  5. People are Gifts – Things are so important to us that we can forget people. It’s a good practice to make sure we are teaching children that others are more important than their toys.  Practice this among siblings by serving one another.

There is no guarantee in this life that our children will be grateful for anything we do for them or give them.  The only guarantee we have is that God gives us grace to train our children in his ways.  This job is hard so our dependence on God is a must.  Are you depending on him?  It’s the only way to go forward in this job called parenting.