Tag Archives: thankfulness

Year of Gratitude: April

We have entered a new month for our Year of Gratitude. This month our focus is

Growing Edges: Spring comes this month and for Christians, Easter. Flowers begin to bloom and gardens are planted. New life is all around. This month we give thanks for growth: physical, spiritual and those places where we need to grow..

How are you progressing on writing a thank you note a week? Personally, some weeks are better than others for me. Sometimes I don’t write one note, I write several. This is one of those weeks.

Are you remembering to place memories or events in your gratitude jar?  I have not always put something in the jar each week and sometimes I have put two or three memories or events in the jar. Like the thank you notes, it is a good push for me personally to remember to be grateful by action and deed.

In the Christian tradition we are still a couple of weeks away from the celebration of Easter. Holy Week is another week away, but the spiritual disciples of Lent are still part of the lenten journey. During the forty days of Lent, seeds can be planted for growth,, physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally. Like a flower bulb, or a seeds, new growth is cultivated by nourishing the soil, by watering the soil and the right amount of sun. Out of the right amount of care, flowers and trees and the garden grows.

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What spiritual practices are helping you grow this week? “How is your soul?” John Wesley encouraged peopl to ask each other. How is your soul and spirit? What are you nuturing in your spiritual life? Who is helping you do that? Have you thanked your prayer partner, your small group leader, your Sunday School teacher or your pastor? Perhaps there is an author that helps you deepen your faith. Can you write that an author a note or share their book or writings with others?

This week, may you find new challenges to help your faith grow, and to deepen your spiritual life in Christ.

 

 

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Year of Gratitude, December: Week 3

DECEMBER

Just a few days from Christmas we continue with week 3 of our Year of Gratitude. Week one I invited us to write thank you notes to those who talents had blessed us and to share our talents with others. Week two we were thankful for the gift of time.

It was a real joy for me to write some thank you notes to people who had given the gift of time. Honoring their commitment and savoring the gift was a blessing to me. Giving of my time was another way to celebrate the joy and love and yes peace of the season. Giving time not out of obligation, but out of a sense of love and faith was joyous!

This week the challenge is to write a thank you note focusing on treasure. The first definition of treasure from Merriam-Webster focuses on money and wealth. It is the second definition that speaks of something or someone of great value. That can be, but isn’t necessarily based on monetary value.

Jesus once said, “that where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21) Perhaps it begs the question, but what do you treasure? What do I treasure? What do I find most precious in my life? What do you find most precious in your life? What do we treasure above all else?

This week the challenge is to write a thank you note that honors what we treasure most. That thank you note might honor a relationship we might have, it might be to an organization that we are so grateful to be able to assist through our time and our donations. Honor what you treasure most with a thank note and through the gift of you: your time, your presence or a donation.

May what we treasure help us focus our faith this week as we celebrate the birth of Emmanuel, God-with-us.

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Flood Bucket Celebration

Sunday, September 10th, many people from all over Wichita gathered to put together flood/cleaning buckets for United Methodist Committee on Relief to take to hurricane victims. People came with individual items, with full and partial buckets and with helping hands. By Wednesday morning 165 buckets were completed. You can read the full story in the FUMC Wichita Missions Blog.

Next month there will be another opportunity for the community to gather and to fill  more buckets. Thousands will be needed. The mission director and I created a thank you video to send our gratitude out to all those who put their heart and hands and spirits into making a difference for those so devastated by the storms.

I believe that “when the storms of life are raging” God is with us, but what we do for each other, makes God’s presence real. For all who brought items, sent money, gave of time and energy and those who surrounded this project with prayer. Thank you!

 

Yesterday we loaded 165 flood buckets into the church van, trailer and a SUV and took them to the Conference Offices in Wichita where they joined 1000 other flood buckets that will be heading to UMCOR! It could not have been done without your help! Sunday approximately 100 people came to the Wilke Family Life […]

via THANK YOU!!! — FUMC Wichita Missions

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Thankfulness

I started the challenge of posting each day this month with a day of gratitude. On facebook during month of November many take the challenge of putting on their page each day something for which they are thankful. It is a great way to focus one’s time and energy. As the Christmas holiday shopping season begins earlier and earlier it can be easy to be aware of one’s wants and the things one does not have rather than look at blessings and how they abound.

I am thankful for so many things. I am grateful for a warm house, plenty of food, an ability to pay my bills, a husband who loves and a family I delight in. I am grateful to serve as a pastor at a church that is filled with people on a journey of faith. West Heights strives to be faithful in mission and in ministry. I am thankful to be alive.

I am also grateful that my life is filled with joy most days. I am grateful for laughter and love I experience with friends, coworkers and family. I am deeply thankful that in the midst of it all I know God’s love and grace.

The other day I ran across one of the new pieces The Piano Guys have recorded. If you have not heard them, they play music ranging from classical to rock, to pop to goldie oldies. Their music is sometimes serious, but more often, plain fun. Their music is delightful. With a grateful heart I share their rendition of Ode to Joy. I am graced to Serve.

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A month of Thanks

I stopped by Big Lots today, a store filled with many items. My husband and I thought we would replace some of our Halloween lights that are now burned out. We use them mostly for our church’s Trunk or Treat, but also to light our front porch prior to Halloween night.

What I am NOT Thankful for today. Walking into Big Lots, Christmas music. CHRISTMAS music! I will admit, I love Christmas music as much as anyone, but NOT on November 1. Can you imagine what that will sound like in six weeks with two more weeks BEFORE Christmas? Yeah, me too. And that is why I was not happy hearing it.

That was not the only reason, the other reason is that I truly hate the jump from Halloween to Christmas. I can understand it from a business point of view, after all, Thanksgiving is not really a retail paradise unless you sell food and drink. Thanksgiving can actually invite conversations on having enough and being content with the blessings a person has received. I want to celebrate and enjoy Thanksgiving before I get into the wonder and delight of Christmas.

So, like last year, I am embarking on a month of thanks. I know I should be thankful everyday and I am. November will be a month for me to be more intentional on the many blessings I receive.

So my first day of thanks has me reflecting on Halloween evening. The congregation I serve, West Heights United Methodist Church has done a Trunk or Treat for several years. The Membership and Evangelism committee sends notes home to children at four elementary schools. The congregation collects candy so that no one person or family has to bear the burden of buying candy for hundreds of children. They serve hot dogs, chips, hot chocolate and water. And people come to the church dressed up and their cars decorated.

This year, they did something different. I floated the idea of having books to give out along with candy. The idea came from my daughter who works at Better World Books, which is an internet retailer with a brick and mortar store in Goshen, Indiana. Each year, downtown Goshen stores hand out candy on Halloween. The bookstore, however, also hands out free books to children. They have boxes of books for children to go through until they find just the right book.

Using facebook, the idea was floated and immediately generated excitement. In one week, over 500 books came in. Last night, four tables of books were set out for children to look through and find one to take home. Parents could find one for their infants and toddlers. It was so wonderful to watch the faces and the laughter and hear the excited “look what I found!” Parents said things like “Oh, I read this one as a child!” And “thank you” upon “thank you” was given. Those inside said children walked in clutching their books and sitting down to read them.

Today, I am thankful for those who each year dedicate thousands of pieces of candy, who donate hundreds of hours and spend a very cold evening creating a safe place for children to Trick or Treat. I am thankful for all those who donated books so every child received not only candy, but a book to read and treasure.

I am graced to serve.

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On the Autumn Equinox

 

Thoughts on this first day of Fall

 
Last year at this time I was reading an old fall issue of Midwest Living, a magazine that focuses on life in the mid-west. What struck me about this issue, was not the recipes, although I love to cook, not the trips or the festivals but the opening piece by the editor. He had asked people why they loved the fall. The responses varied, but tended toward “it’s cooler, it’s football weather, the leaves are lovely and my routine is back after the long days of summer.”

I was looking for something else. I love autumn. I, too, love the cooler weather, the leaves that change colors, the opportunity to jump in a pile of just raked leaves, the mums that burst forth as the last color before winter. I love the smell of the wood fires and the sight of bright stars on a cool crisp night.

For me, autumn is my time to reassess my life. I know for our dominant culture we make “resolutions” on January 1. I, however, look over my goals, check out my calender and try to prioritize what is truly important in the fall. 

Autumn drives me in a way no other season does. I feel compelled to check my pantry, to can up produce and freeze produce for the winter. I feel pushed by time as the days grow shorter and colder. 

Without being maudlin, autumn reminds me that I will not live forever. My days on earth have a beginning and have an end. I am not promised forever, only the moments I am given. As the days wane, I am deeply aware that my life also wanes. In the springtime all is new and exciting and wonderful and young. I look for the tulips and the daffodils and iris to spring forth in all their glory. In the fields I can see the young calves and the lambs and the colts. I can hear the “cheep cheep” of the young birds in the nest. 

Summertime is for long sun-filled days, full of energy. When the crops begin to grow green and tall and begin to produce the sought after harvest. Summer is a gathering in of family and friends and an enjoyment of time that seems to stand still.

Then suddenly, the days grow shorter, a cool breeze creeps in from the north. soon leaves begin to turn color until they are a riot of orange and coral and amber and red. The wind grows stronger and they begin to fall until the branches of the trees are barren and the grass has turned brown and the nights are much longer than the days.

Autumn is our seasonal reminder to “pay attention” if you will to the life we have been given. To say “I love you” to the people that matter the most. To, in the words of the Psalmist “to count our days that we may gain a wise heart.” There will come a time when I enter the winter of my life, when like the autumn leaves, I will have spent all that have and will lie down to rise no more.

I want to honor the days of my life that I am given. I want to love well, to truly let those people I love know how much I have loved them and appreciated their love. I want to use my gifts and abilities in a way that leaves this world a better place. And at the last, I want to say a prayer of thanks to God for the times and the seasons I have been given.

I am

Graced to Serve.

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