Tag Archives: Giving thanks

Year of Gratitude, June: Week 4

When it comes to “sabbath” how many ways you can talk about it or practice it? In scripture it says, “Observe the Sabbath Day and keep it holy.” (Deuteronomy 5) Sabbath wasn’t supposed to be a problem or burder, it was to be a joy!

Many people can still remember what it was like when everything was closed on Sundays (the Christian sabbath.) Usually the day was uncomfortable, kids were to stay quiet or play quietly. This was a far cry for the “gift” of Sabbath originally intended.

In antiquity, Judiasm had a holiday or vacation EVERY WEEK! Nobody else did that! Other traditions had rest days, but not nearly as often. The sabbath was to acknowledge God and God’s goodness and mercy. Each week, time was given to share worship, love and joy.

Now even though most people have “days off” they are often spent working, checking e-mail and returning text messages. Time off sounds lovely but kind of crazy.

I think we need not just a “sabbath” one day a week, but sabbath time every day. Moments of peace, of quiet when we are not driven by blinking cursers, or text messages or incoming phone calls or e-mails. Time when we push back from our desks, from the gardens, from the work in front of us and pause and remember that God is our God. That life is more than work and we are  blessed with every moment we are given.

So for our gratitude challenge this week, I want you in the next seven days to take a sabbath break every day. Perhaps it is time to take short walk, or sit outside with glass of iced tea, or getting in quiet place and being in the presence of God. I want you to write a thank you note to someone with whom you enjoy spending time, over a meal, exercising, visiting or enjoying a cup of coffee. Those moments alone and with people who matter to us, are bits of sabbath we are given every day. Then spend some time thanking God for time, for Sabbath.

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Year of Gratitude, March Week 4

The month of March our gratitude challenge has focused on “home.” When the weather changes, some people get anxious to spring clean, to declutter, to spruce up the outside of the house. Home is also more than the place where we sleep and eat and live. We have homes in many places including churches and clubs and organizations and parks and vacation spots.

One home we, or perhaps only me, don’t talk about very often is how at home are we in our bodies? We physically, spiritually, emotionally and mentally inhabit a body and that body is our home while we live on earth. Our Lenten sermon series has been “God on the Move” and as a congregation we are walking to Jerusalem, recording our steps and our miles we are physically moving each week.

My husband and I have “upped” our miles walking and also increased the intensity of our walks. I am personally looking forward to getting back on the bicycle. However, I very aware of how I don’t move the way I used to move. I am slower at some things, less strong and I can feel the increased miles in my body.

I have recently been noticing how my skin has aged and I have aged. I am not ashamed of being 60, but perhaps the truth is I am noticing I do not look as did when I was younger. My skin is different. While they are not huge or dark, I have more age spots on my hands and arms.

 

IMG_3120Wrinkles continue to make themselves noticable across my face, around my eyes, my mouth, my neck and forehead.

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And how is it I can have “blemishes” popping out WITH wrinkles?!? We won’t even mention the gray hair.

So this week, I was wondering how to give thanks for my physical body? This amazing creation of God that while not perfect and certainly is filled with flaws, is the vehicle through which I am enabled to be in ministry. This body takes me out to make hospital calls, to have a cup coffee with a friend, lead worship and preach every week as well as the numerous other ministry tasks.

This body enables me to play, encourages me to walk, to ride my bike and exercise or reminds me by aching that I need to be physcially active.  This same body enjoys laughter, good food and hugs from those I love.

My eyesight while very nearsighted, still sees the beauty around me and my ears hear the wonderful sounds of creation, music in so many places and the sighs and prayers of my heart. I could go on, but even this aging body is a gift that enhances my life and allows me to life a life of gratitude.

How are you grateful for your body which is your home in this world? How do you show your gratitude for this gift of life? This week write a thank you note or two to those who help you appreciate your body. Maybe it is a physical therapist, or a doctor or a dentist. Maybe it is an exercise partner or a personal trainer or someone how who leads class. Maybe it is cook or chef that makes sure you have good food to eat.

This week find ways to give thanks for your home, your body that houses all that you are: physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally.

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Year of Gratitude, March: Week 3

I believe Spring has sprung! Last night was a brilliant super moon. I didn’t even try and take a picture, but it was huge and bright and brilliant on a beautiful evening, the end of the first day of spring. I am more then ready for this season of spring, for flowers, for the planting of seeds and plants and within a few weeks, the outdoor farmer’s markets. Earlier this week I found this in my yard:

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So I am thankful for winter to be at least mostly over and for spring to arrive. Last week, I gave thanks for my home and this week I do too. I have begun the change over of the decorations. The Valentines are long gone, but I had not begun to put up Easter yet. After all, Easter comes late in April and it just seemed too early.

Still, the house looks bare, so the Easter and Spring decorations have begun to go up downstairs. Spring cleaning is one of those things that people talk about. I am sure it has to do with needing to air out our homes after a long winter and to be ready for the new life that spring offers.

Spring cleaning can be more than just our homes, it can be our lives. What have I outgrown this year? What is no longer useful as a tool or as a coping mechanism? What have I hung on to that I need to just let go? For me, this can be about “things” but more deeply it can be about what is going on with me spiritually, emotionally and mentally. Perhaps it is about hurts or resentments I may  be clinging to in stead of cleaning my spiritual house.

I am grateful for the season of Lent (which means spring season) that allows me to focus on my faith and who I am called to be in my faith. I am grateful for a particular place that I call my spiritual home as well as the place I call home each and every day. This week I intend to live out my gratitude through planting some seeds and by letting some things go. What will you do this week to live out your gratitude?

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2019, New Year, New Possibilities

Today is January 1, 2019. Each year on the first of January, thousands of people make New Year’s Resolutions. Some people are very intentional and there are all kinds of online helps and prompts to support those who want to make changes: dietary, lifestyle, overcoming bad habits, new or increased exercise, read more, do more, do less, practice a deeper spirituality, reduce stress or whatever a person wants to make a difference in his or her life. Others mock the whole “New Year’s Resolution” as an exercise in futility.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with wanting to do better, be better or change things about one’s life that are unhealthy or unhelpful. I will never mock or put down any one who is trying to live a better or more healthy life. So what if some one doesn’t get it “right” the first time or tenth time. Choosing to be intentional about life, is a spiritual practice. For me, it means to not sleep walk through my days and nights, but to open our eyes, my heart, my mind and my spirit to the newness each day bring, let along alone each year.

At the end of November, I challenged my congregation at First United Methodist Church  to a Year of Gratitude. This is not my own unique idea, I had seen it posted in blogs and through churches over the last few years. We began in December, because in the life of the church Advent is the beginning of the new year. My challenge was a personal challenge for me as well. I want to live my life as one continual thanksgiving to the God who creates and loves and calls us all. The challenge includes writing one thank you note each week. Here is this months focus:

January 2019

Good things: This is a month often used for “new life.” Resolutions, life changes. Find a jar and each week write down one good thing that happened. At the end of this year you will be able to empty the jar and read about the amazing year you have had.

So today my hope is that you will find a jar, a basket, a container of some sort of another to begin writing down one good thing that happens each week. Here is what mine looks like: it’s not particularly pretty or well done, but it will be the place where I will be putting my good things that are happening each week.

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So a new year in the western culture has begun. A clean slate is available for you and I to begin anew. I plan to be intentionally thankful. Today, I will be writing thank you notes for the gifts received this Christmas. What thank you note or thank you notes will you be writing this week? Then I will be looking for that one good thing to write down and put in my jar so that by December 31st, I will have a jar full of good things to be grateful for and remember.

I saw this quote on a friends Facebook page this morning:

“Gratitude is a vaccine, an antitoxin, and an antiseptic.” John Henry Jowett (1864–1923) PRESBYTERIAN PREACHER AND WRITER

I believe gratitude and being thankful is all of those things and more. I am grateful for another day and new year. Happy New Year!

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