Monday, January 14, 2013

the lifeline of thanks

"In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NKJV)

I've lived through days that I wished weren't true and I know this is true.

That giving thanks is not only a commandment but a lifeline for a child of God. Sometimes thanksgiving is the only way I can find to connect to God. I've driven to work with tears streaming down my face and feeling so far from God and the only words I could say at all were "Thank You" for everything I could see.

Sometimes on the good days it is easier for me to forget to give thanks. Before I know what is happening, I've lost close communion with God because I am living like a greedy child, loving and hoarding the gifts but not giving thanks to the Giver.

Friends, if you haven't read One Thousand Gifts, please do. It's been on the New York Times bestseller list for weeks, but it's not overrated. I especially love the gift book, Selections from One Thousand Gifts. It's easy to find my favorite lines from One Thousand Gifts in this compact edition where they are paired with stunning photographs. During the darkest days of my life, I held onto my Bible, my journal and pen, and this beautiful little book.

This is one thing I hope to encourage and cultivate in my preschoolers....a heart of gratitude. Because I know that giving thanks is a lifeline and these kids in this world are going to need that if they're going to hang onto any faith at all....especially some of them. They must be convinced that the heart of God is good. They need to know that He is bigger than everything impossible and terrible and horribly twisted. And if they remember that every good thing comes from Him, they'll remember His goodness.

That's why I love so much to hear them pray prayers like this: "Dear Jesus, thank You for the popcorn and the grapes and the cantaloupe. Thank You for our friends, and thank You for our school. Thank You that we can have a happy day. In Jesus' Name. Amen."

or this...."Thank You for the lunch and thank You that You that You love us and thank You for this entire earth. Thank You for the milk and for the cities and the buses."

All praise to God!

My thanks list today....

~sweetest preschool girlfriends, one English-speaking and tall with gorgeous blonde curls, the other petite with dark hair and eyes and Chinese-speaking, both of them so perfect

~the most wonderful coworkers I could ask for

~city lights glistening on rain-washed city streets

~my warm winter coat 

~an encouraging sermon and beautiful worship music yesterday morning, giving me courage for another week

~my family and friends in PA, wonderful enough to miss so much

~all the little faces smiling on my walls, my fridge, in picture frames

~that I can trust His goodness "The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works." -Psalm 145:17 (ESV)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

just a few reasons why I love urban living

1. Cultural experiences....I enjoy being around and interacting with people of different ethnicities and cultures on a daily basis. God made people so beautifully diverse!

2. Exercising is an essential part of my daily routine. To get to work and back, I walk 1.2 miles per day, and many days I walk somewhere else as well. Another thing I love about walking is that I recognize more and more people in the neighborhood whom I cross paths with as I am walking.

3. It is possible to experience the freedom of not having a car! I love it. No insurance bills, no accelerated heartbeat when you check the sign at the gas station. No car appointments.

4. So many invitations to talk about Jesus! I get asked anything from "What religion are you?" to "Are you Pilgrims?", and comments range from, "God bless you, sisters!" to "I always love the Jewish people." :)

5. Public transit! I love that I can travel anywhere in this entire city that the metro, Light Rail, or city bus runs,  all day long, for only $3.50. I feel perhaps the most a part of my new neighborhood/city when I ride the Light Rail or bus. Figuring out the bus system is an excellent way to learn how the streets run and to meet interesting people.

Case in point: Last night Katrina and I went on adventure downtown. On the way home we caught the bus, which arrived 30 minutes late. Partway home the bus driver stopped the bus next to a shopping plaza and told us, "Sorry, I have to use the restroom, I'll be right back." After scolding a passenger (who appeared to be in some state of influence) for spilling his McDonald's milkshake over the floor, she exited the bus. Another passenger decided to take advantage of the opportunity and dashed to a restaurant in the plaza. The milkshake-spilling passenger exited the bus in an angry huff.

A few minutes later, bus driver and restaurant-going passenger returned to the bus. As she began to drive, she called back to us, "Does anyone know how this route runs? Can you tell me where to turn?" Two gentlemen sitting near Katrina and me graciously helped her out...I was even able to assist a bit! One of the gentlemen joked that he would tell her how to get to his house. :)

Katrina and I arrived back feeling entertained and a bit more native. :)

6. On rainy days like today, umbrellas are more romantic than windshield wipers. Just saying.