My poor blog. It’s been a bit neglected lately.
Poor little ol’ neglected blog…nobody loves her. LOL
It’s been an interesting week of…hmm…let’s call it “growth.” If you’ve ever prayed for patience, you know what I mean: you ask God to make you a more patient person, and almost immediately everyone starts jumping on your last nerve—usually all at once! I think God sends those times to test us, to see if we really mean what we prayed, and to give us an opportunity to exercise those virtues he’s trying to develop in us.
So this week, I was inspired by my pastor’s awesome sermon on gratitude to start focusing more on being thankful for what I have instead of focusing on everything that’s wrong. You know what’s next, right? It’s Thursday, and it feels like I’ve had about three weeks’ worth of things going wrong since Sunday. I have been battling frustration like I haven’t in recent memory.
I don’t want to list everything that’s gone wrong, because that’s just casting focus on those things. But this week is teaching me how very hard it is to only share problems with God when you’re in the habit of venting to other people. Yet I really believe it’s a sign of maturity to be able to do that, so it’s a goal I’m striving toward. But it sure isn’t easy.
I was going through that mental battle yesterday morning, when I got an email from a sweet lady who’s read my column for years. She was so encouraging in her brief note; it just brightened my whole day. Thank God for prompting her to send me that! But then I slipped back into mulling over some financial concerns, fretting over how to sort out the next payday’s budget, wondering about when Donnie and I might get paid for some freelancing we did, wondering how to make ends meet when they appeared ten yards apart. Just the usual fretting over finances around here.
It wasn’t a few minutes later that I got a message from a pastor who runs an orphanage in Uganda, asking me to pray for him to be able to meet the needs of the children in his care. They have been working to plant a garden to help feed the kids and it isn’t going well. His English is rather broken; I am not exactly sure what is going on. I know that he recently took in four siblings whose only parent, a father, recently passed away. These precious kids were crowded together in a mud hut about the size of my bathroom. And if the orphanage’s garden isn’t successful, all 29 of the children there will struggle to have anything to eat.
Talk about putting things into perspective regarding gratitude. I’d just fed a bowl of lunch leftovers to my dog, because I didn’t want to throw it away. And today I sit here and type in air conditioning, with a stomach full of broccoli cheese soup and tea, surrounded by healthy children who’ve never had to miss a meal or even a snack despite the financial struggles we have had.
And perspective suddenly shifts into very clear focus on how much I am blessed and how much gratitude I owe God. It also makes me realize how much I need to make sure that what I’ve been blessed with is given back to those in need. By American standards, I am not rich. But by worldly standards, my family, my extended family and all of my friends—we live as kings and queens! We all have so much to give—even if we don’t have tons of riches to give away, most of us can trim the budget enough to have something to offer those in need. Even the busiest of us have time to help others, even if it’s just taking ten seconds to say an encouraging word to someone who is struggling.
The Bible says that to whom much is given, much is required. We have been given so much; every breath, every heartbeat is a gift from God above. When we take a minute to be mindful, to stop complaining and just be thankful, we can see our blessings clearly and know that our lives, if we want to follow Christ’s example, must include giving back to others as an offering of thanksgiving.