Nuggets-What Are We Supposed to Be Thankful In?

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. “

What has that meant to you in the past?

How have you heard it preached?

Grit your teeth and thank God that your life is falling apart, your spouse left, your kid is a practicing prodigal, you’ve got cancer or any other possible terrible circumstance?

Or, perhaps you’ve put the verse into practice by saying, “God, thank you inSPITE of all I’m facing. InSPITE off all the terrible things, I will be thankful.”

But that’s not really what it says, is it?

” … give thanks in all circumstances … “

That little word “in” isn’t too hard to understand. It just means “smack in the middle of”(my personal definition). It means, even in the middle of the crap, the crud and the costly, find something to be thankful for.

We can and should start with the Gospel: “That Christ Jesus came to save sinners,” (1 Timothy 1:15). 

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Nuggets: What were you expecting?

So, my hubby comes out of the field for (what feels like) the 100th time today. This excursion was only a couple nights, but a quick glance back at the month of October and I realize the heavy toll I’m feeling is grounded in the fact that we scarcely had a single weekend together last month.

I’m sitting comfortably at my kitchen table, enjoying quiet time with Jesus and waiting for Eve to wake. He texts me and suddenly my mind is off, thinking about what our evening will hold, happy that he has tomorrow off and conjuring up a myriad of expectations for our window of time together:

I want him to enjoy Eve … I want to feel intimate and close to him … I want physical affection … I want a chance to talk to him … I want him to express an achy “I missed you guys” too … I want him to tell me about what happened out there and how things went … I want to talk to him about some ideas rumbling around in my head … I want to make fun plans for this coming weekend since he’ll finally be home …

Quickly, (thankfully) God stopped my musings.

Haven’t we talked about this before?

This single greatest danger I have allowed to enter our marriage through my own weaknesses is expectation. Expectation of another fallen human being is doomed for failure, reaps disappointment and breeds discontentment and ultimately bitterness.

Psalm 62:5 says, “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.”

My expectations have no place but in God. There is no one else who will meet them every single time. There is no one else in whom they are safe. There’s honestly no one else who can handle them and no one else who can comfort me when they go unmet.

Where are your expectations today? What are you going to do when someone lets you down?

Glory: Heavier Than The Weight of the World

The Hebrew word for glory comes from the root word kabad, meaning: “to be heavy, to be honored, to be made heavy, be honored, enjoy honor, be made abundant, to get oneself glory or honor, gain glory.”

Oddly, that doesn’t resonate with our typical translation of glory when we read it in the Bible. More similar, is our English definition of weight: “the amount or quantity of heaviness or mass; amount a thing weighs.”

I wonder what’s weighing on you right now? Are you bearing “the weight of the world on your shoulders?” Is it the weight of worry for a troubled teen, a mountain of debt, unemployment or a failing marriage? Do you feel the crush of burdens that you can’t quite put your finger on—a feeling of foreboding and a heaviness in your heart?

I wonder what would happen if we placed the weight of God’s glory on the scale against your burden?

Find out how God will displace your burdens by reading the rest over at The Bottom Line.

It is Well With My Soul, A Hymn to Live By

It is Well With My Soul

Do you know the song, “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart … ”? Kind of makes you feel like smiling, right?

We often sing because we’re happy. Psalm 100:1 tells us, “Make a joyful noise to the Lord.” Singing is one of the primary ways we worship God. When we’re happy we just feel like singing!

But have you ever not felt like singing? When we’re sad, hurt or angry, it can be really hard to “make a joyful noise”. There’s a story in the Bible about Paul and his friend Silas in prison. That’s obviously not a very happy place, and I doubt they felt like singing. All the same, Acts 16 says they began to sing out loud in their jail cells. Guess what? God did a miracle, broke their chains, set them free and even gave them an opportunity to tell the jailer about Jesus!

Horatio Spafford was the author of a well-known hymn. His life is an example of finding hope and peace in Jesus even when everything is going wrong—he even found the courage to sing.

Mr. Spafford was a successful lawyer in Chicago in the late 1800’s. He and his wife had four children. But their only son died of scarlet fever at the age of four. The very next year, a terrible fire in Chicago destroyed many of Mr. Spafford’s investments. Then, only two years later, the Spafford family planned a holiday to England where they hoped to hear one of Mr. Spafford’s friends preach. A business issue arose last minute, so Mr. Spafford sent his wife and three daughters ahead, planning to join them later.

On November 22, 1873, while crossing the Atlantic on the steamship Ville du Havre, their ship was struck by an iron sailing vessel. Two-hundred and twenty-six people died, including all three of the Spafford’s daughters. Only Horatio’s wife, Anna, was saved. As soon as she could, she sent a message to her husband that simply said, “Saved alone.”

Horatio Spafford left for England to join his wife. As his own ship passed over the area where his daughters had lost their lives, his heart must have ached. I wonder if he thought of Paul and Silas in prison. I wonder if he struggled to find words to pray. With great sadness, he pulled out a pen and wrote the words to a hymn we still sing today, “It is Well With My Soul”.

Sometimes, it’s really hard to believe that God is good. Sometimes we simply don’t feel like praising God. How do you think Horatio Spafford or Paul and Silas found the courage to sing praises even when they were suffering?

Psalm 117:1-2 says, “Praise the Lord, all nations! Extol him, all peoples! For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord!” (emphasis added)

These men could sing because they understood that even when we hurt and things don’t make sense, God is trustworthy and He will always love us. Because of that, He is worthy of praise.

The next time you’re sad, and singing is the last thing you want to do, try singing Mr. Spafford’s hymn. It will remind you that no matter what, when you trust in Jesus, it is well with your soul.

Check out this article by my friend, Billie Jo, about praying for others in the midst of pain and when it feels like God isn’t listening.

What Will You Make of Your Glass?

Special post by Dana Rongione

I love object lessons. There’s something about them that helps me grasp spiritual lessons that otherwise elude me. However, I would like to share with you a lesson revolving around an ordinary, everyday object.

Picture a piece of glass. Now, imagine that the glass represents the difficult circumstances in your life–the stress that weighs you down and steals your sleep, the overwhelming schedule that creates havoc in your life, the relationships that are so far from what they should be, your failing health, that horrible job that leaves you tired, frustrated and out of sorts. Whatever your situation may be, that piece of glass represents those problems. So, what will you make of your glass? …

To finish reading this insightful post, please visit Dana over at www.tblministries.com.

How to Have A Happy Heart

love-tree-1077047-mI’d been at my new editing job for less than a week, and already I’d offended someone. No matter that I’d prayed over every single article, prayed for my attitude, humility, comments and thoughts–still, somehow I’d allowed an author to feel as if her work wasn’t good enough. It was an accident! I want so much to honor the writers I edit.

A brief email. She wasn’t rude, but I could read between the lines. I’d hurt her feelings, maybe overstepped my bounds with the changes I’d made to her article.

It took a few hours, a few emails; finally we seemed to resolve the issue. Surely, I could carry on with my evening–just let it go. But my heart was still stuck in my feet. I hate to let someone down. I hate to hurt someone’s feelings. Back to the computer, I kept reading, kept typing, kept working.

Ding! A new email, but I was hesitant to check it. Bravely, I clicked through to a message from another author. She wrote, “Hi Abby, Rough day? Feel free to do anything you want [when you edit my articles]. (They are His articles-not mine!) Rewrite, edit, change, etc.”

My spirits rose. As I whispered a prayer of thanks. Proverbs 12:25 came to mind, “Anxiety in the heart weighs a man down, but a good word makes him glad.”

Whose heart can you buoy with a good word today?

Book Review, “The Preacher’s Bride”

7685228Are you tired of Cinderella stories? You know, the ones with their saintly fair maidens and angelic buxom brunettes. The characters are flawless from the start in every way, from their moral fortitude to their physical attributes. The Preacher’s Bride, by Judy Hedlund, is a refreshing exception. Perhaps that is what makes the book so cogent—the invitation to identify with the heroine, finding grace in her imperfections and confidence in her strengths. Surely this comes from the fact that the story is only partly fiction.

From the first pages of The Preacher’s Bride, the protagonist, Elizabeth Whitbread, treads common ground with us lowly, average, homely, self-conscious, dutiful women. Through the course of the book, Hedlund expertly uses Elizabeth to empathize with each varied and mystifying roll a woman may play in her life: from a young, single woman to a new bride, an unloved wife to an independent woman, and finally to a wise, seasoned, valued and respected mother and wife.

Hedlund is skilled at sharing the perspectives of each the primary characters, but Elizabeth drives the story. This is particularly fascinating, as The Preacher’s Bride is ultimately based on the story of John Bunyan, the tinker turned preacher in England during the 1600’s.

The book is well-researched, and accurately portrays the cultural and political climate of the times; the tension between the Puritans and the Royalists. Then, adding a good dose of creative license, Hedlund explores the emotions, trials and victories of Bunyan’s second wife, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth’s defining characteristic is her strength. In spite of persecution, poverty, overwhelming responsibility, loneliness and pain, she emerges victorious. I liken Elizabeth’s story to a item submitted to a tinker such as John Bunyan.

Tinkering, according to Wikipedia, is essentially “the process of adapting, meddling or adjusting something in the course of making repairs or improvements,”. It must be painful. There is twisting and bending, heating and filing. But the end result is always finer than at the start.

The Preacher’s Bride shows how God uses many challenges to “tinker” with each of us. But like Elizabeth, there is a reward when we remain faithful. I found myself with Elizabeth, experiencing each of her trials, and somehow, I believe, emerging with her refined, purified and improved.

Mine is the Story

After six years of full-blown anorexia, six years of tremulous recovery, three years of painful relapse and three years of telling God that I didn’t want to write a book—I started writing my story.

It was difficult to argue with God when He brought me an agent. It was even more difficult to argue when He brought us a publisher. They believed in my story and believed it had the potential to help others affected by eating disorders. So, I started writing.

I wrote the true story of this girl who decided at age fourteen that she would define herself by being thin. She would establish her identity as the one with the most self-restraint, physical discipline and iron will, to the destruction of her body. Mine is the story of this girl who spent her sixteenth, then eighteenth birthdays and a total of six years at an inpatient treatment facility in Arizona. I married at age 22 and then discovered my husband’s addiction to pornography; suffered a relapse and nearly lost my marriage.

The best part of the story was the most difficult to write. How to explain the way God rescued this miserable, dying woman? How to explain the way He finally made the truth make sense? How to write about that day when I walked through an open air farmers’ market on Percival Point in Olympia, Washington—the day the world sprung back to life and I could suddenly see apples and glossy, red cherries and fresh caught salmon as glorious, delicious gifts from God?

It was hard to express the excitement and profundity of that day. For so many years I saw food as the enemy, my hunger as something to be fought against and my body as a foe to be buffeted. But on that sunny afternoon, God revealed food to me the same way that He did to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the way He intended us to view food.

“Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.” Genesis 9:3

The final steps toward the process of publishing have been difficult. On several occasions it felt like I was up against Satan himself. I wondered why? My story seems insignificant. My testimony is small and it doesn’t seem world-changing. But when I shared this discouragement with a friend, she validated my story.

She pointed out, “John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

Then she said, “If anorexia’s purpose isn’t to steal, kill and destroy God’s plan, then I don’t know what is! God WILL use your story to open blind eyes and set the captives free. That’s why Satan is trying to sabotage your, no His, story.”

And so, I share my story. It’s not different, no more profound or world-changing than yours. Our lives are uniquely part of God’s purpose and His plans for them are powerful.

If you’d like to read my ebook, or buy the paperback, visit these links on Amazon: Surviving the Predatory Lies of Anorexia (ebook) The Predatory Lies of Anorexia: A Survivor’s Story (paperback)

*Update: The Predatory Lies of Anorexia: A Survivor’s Story, was successfully published in March of 2014. To God the glory! Now, I have embarked on the next journey with Jesus, I’m writing a Bible study. I’ll keep you posted on the process and publication. I can’t wait to share it with you!