“I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving…” (Psalm 116:17).

From this verse I get the impression we offer thanksgiving with difficulty or under hardship—because we should do it, not necessarily because we want to do it.

Early in my walk with the Lord, my expression of thanks depended on my circumstances. When favorable, my heart overflowed with gratitude and praise. I found it easy to rejoice and thank the Lord.

I offered thanksgiving as a reward for his being good to me and withheld it if I thought he hadn’t treated me fairly. Then I read “in every thing give thanks” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

In everything? That’s expecting a lot. So I gave thanks as a formality, with great effort, begrudgingly.

Reading those beautiful hymns of praise, the Psalms, I saw how others handled this.

Those writers offered thanks and praise to God in spite of circumstances, with gratitude for his marvelous works in the past and confidence in his promises for the future. They praised him for his very nature—he is good, gracious, righteous, merciful, slow to anger, rich in compassion and forgiveness.

If that weren’t enough, they praised him simply because he deserved it. The Lord God is worthy of honor and exaltation.

Regardless of my circumstances, he is still good, gracious, righteous, merciful, slow to anger, rich in compassion and forgiveness–and so worthy of honor and exaltation.

Giving thanks is a decision. And sometimes it’s a sacrifice. Even so…

“My heart, is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise” (Psalm 57:7).

(Adapted from Cabbages and Kings—Reflections on Living Abundantly in Christ)

Dianne Barker is a speaker, radio host, and author of 11 books, including the best-selling Twice Pardoned and award-winning I Don’t Chase the Garbage Truck Down the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! Organizing for the Maximum Life. She’s secretary of Christian Authors Network and a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association and Christian Women in Media Association. Visit www.diannebarker.com.

 

 

 

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Excerpt from Christmas Charity by Susan G. Mathis:

Mabel opened the door and noticed the darkening sky. “Come in, Susan. Looks like a Nor’easters a building. Might have snow by nightfall.”

Susan entered the elderly woman’s abode. Neat and tidy with lots of memorabilia, just as Susan had imagined. Mabel led her into the kitchen. “I was just making tea. Care for some?”

“Yes, please. How are you, Mabel?”

“I’m just fine. Been praying for you and that girl of yours a fair bit. How’s it going?” Mabel stopped pouring the tea and stared into Susan’s eyes. “Tell me truthful-like, ya hear?” She tilted her head to accentuate her command.

Susan dropped her eyes to the oilcloth-covered table. “Not good. She won’t let me in. Patrick says to give her time, but…”

Mabel sat down next to her and rubbed her braid like her mama always did. Susan turned to make sure she wasn’t dreaming that Mabel was her mama just then.

“But what? Her father let’s her get away with too much? She has free rein to be prickly?” Mabel grunted. “My brother did the same thing when his wife died, and now my niece is unbearable. I know the signs.”

Susan nodded. “So what do I do? I love Patrick. He’s a kind man but he’s too kind sometimes.”

“Pray, dear girl, and pour on the charity.” Mabel sipped her tea before continuing. “Thomas Aquinas said that only God gives us power to show charitable love to another. He says that it’s the most perfect way to love. It’s love that’s given by choice, by your will, not expecting anything in return. True charity not only touches the heart of another but once you pour it out, joy and peace will also fill you up.”

“But…if I can’t even talk to her or touch her or interact with her in any way, how can I show her charity? I don’t understand.”

Mabel gazed at the wall for several moments before answering. “God has to show you the specifics, dearie. The love chapter in Corinthians gives us some ideas. Part of it is having faith and hope that God will give you the answer. It has nothing to do with her accepting you or even liking you. You can talk to her all you want, but if you don’t show her charity, it’ll sound like a noisy, irritating gong. You have to choose to pour on the charity expecting nothing in return.”

Susan felt her brow furrow. She bit her lip until it hurt, trying to understand Mabel’s words. Mabel patiently sipped her tea and let the sounds of silence fill the room. Susan heard the wind howl and the clock tick, until the quiet comforted her. But she still had questions.

“So, it has nothing to do with her? I have to choose it, no matter what she says or does?”

Mabel smiled, patting Susan’s hand. “Exactly. But you can’t do it in your own strength. You have to let God fill you with charity and then you pour it out. Like this pitcher.” Mabel took the little, white creamer and demonstrated as she poured a little cream into her tea. “Just like that. You don’t make the cream. You just pour it out. You’re a vessel, girl.”

Susan G. Mathis is vice-president of Christian Authors Network. She’s a multi-published author of stories set in her childhood stomping ground, the beautiful Thousand Islands on the St. Lawrence River in upstate NY. Her newest novella, Christmas Charity, her first novel, The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, her Thousand Islands Gilded Age series, and her novellas will take you to a time and place few have gone. Susan is also author of two premarital books with her husband, Dale; two children’s picture books, seven stories in compilation books, and hundreds of articles. Visit her at www.SusanGMathis.com.

 

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Practicing Patience

By Susan G Mathis

My husband has Parkinsons disease, so I am learning to employ a good deal of patience—the very thing I taught in my children’s picture book, Lexie’s Adventure in Kenya: Love is Patience —while we adjust to the challenges of such a terrible disease. God is never finished teaching us patience, so to that end, for all of us who need a bit of encouragement as we learn patience now or in the future, here are a few inspiring quotes that may help:

“God’s way of answering the Christian’s prayer for more patience, experience, hope, and love often is to put him into the furnace of affliction,” Richard Cecil. Yup, I think surgery might be my furnace at the moment.

“We could never learn to be brave and patient, if there were only joy in the world,” Helen Keller. What a woman she must have been!

“Patience is not simply the ability to wait—it’s how we behave while we’re waiting,” Joyce Meyer. Very true. I’ll remember that when I have physical therapy. Smiles.

“Our real blessings often appear to us in the shape of pains, losses, and disappointments; but let us have patience, and we soon shall see them in their proper figures,” Joseph Addison. Hmmm. Got to ponder this one.

“I have seen many storms in my life. Most storms have caught me by surprise, so I had to learn very quickly to look further and understand that I am not capable of controlling the weather, to exercise the art of patience, and to respect the fury of nature,” Paulo Coelho. Interesting.

“Good character is not formed in a week or a month. It is created little by little, day by day. Protracted and patient effort is needed to develop good character,” Heraclitus.

When all is said and done, may you and I be found with a new measure of patience and stronger, more godly character that will bless others, especially God.

 

Dear Lord, Help us learn patience more and more each day. In Jesus name, Amen

 

About the author: Susan Mathis is the author of The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy and four other books. She is the vice president of Christian Authors Network and the Founding Editor of Thriving Family magazine and former Editor of 12 Focus on the Family publications. She has written hundreds of articles and now serves as a writer, writing coach, and consultant. For more, visit www.SusanGMathis.com.

 

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My husband Dale and I have experienced medical challenges—cancer, Parkinson’s disease, multiple surgeries, hospitalizations, and illnesses. We’ve had challenges in our adult children’s lives—financial stresses, unemployment, school struggles, health issues, and major moves across the country and the world. We’ve had life challenges—job changes, aging parents, home and car repairs, and so much more.

Yet all these circumstances have actually brought us closer together because we’ve chosen to lean on each other, to draw strength from each other. You can, too.

Sometimes your marriage will be easy. But other times the potholes or detours of life, the circumstances and the challenges that come your way, will test your marriage and your faith. Yet if you embrace the wisdom of God, He will lead you and guide you through the tough times. He will even carry you over those treacherous mountain passes and through the valleys of hard times . . . if you allow Him.

Especially in the tough times, remember that your marriage is so much bigger than just two people joining forces to journey through life together. It’s even bigger than your family, although that is definitely big!

It’s about how you love each other God’s way. Dale and I make sure we keep this in mind as we make life-decisions.

How have your marriage challenges brought you together? Leave us a comment; we’d love to know.

(Adapted from The ReMarriage Adventure: Preparing for a Lifetime of Love & Happiness, by Susan and Dale Mathis. Copyright © 2012, all rights reserved.)

Author Susan G. Mathis

Susan Mathis is the author of The ReMarriage Adventure: Preparing for a Lifetime of Love & Happiness and Countdown for Couples: Preparing for the Adventure of Marriage, The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy and four other books. She is vice-president of Christian Authors Network. For more, visit www.SusanGMathis.com.

 

 

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. . . let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth (1 John 3:18 NIV)

We have a goal to visit the countries that represent the 15 or so languages our book Men Are Like

Men are Like Waffles
Women Are Like Spaghetti
Harviset House

Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti has been translated into.  Because of our desire to cross cultures, we have often been accompanied by translators. They take what we are saying and reword our thoughts and intentions so that a clear message is accomplished. To do this, often they do not translate word for word, but adapt to carry the main concept so the listener gains the heart or meat of the intent.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could each have a relationship translator? Someone who steps in when we are misunderstanding each other? Good news, the Holy Spirit can be that translator! No one knows your mate, your child, or your friend  like God, who created him or her! The whisper of the Spirit can help you look past the mis-statement or the poorly worded sentence into the heart of intent of your spouse, child or friend.

          Love gives the benefit of the doubt. The Apostle Paul puts it this way in Phil. 1:7:

It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart

“In my heart”, means you carry the person “inside” in a way that is “open minded”. When the Apostle Paul wrote this he was complimenting his friends. The Bible Knoweldge Commentary explains: “It did not matter whether Paul was under arrest . . .  or free; his friends at Philippi shared with him in what God was doing through him. . . .. Paul praised them for their concern . . .

I have you on my Heart
Photo by Rebecca Freidlander

That is a good place to be in a marriage, dating parenting — or any relationship. When you carry each other on your heart, you assume the best about the other person and his or her words. When you quit carrying someone “on your heart”, it becomes all about behavior. The problem with a behavior based relationship is that no one can behave well enough for long enough to keep a relationship going just on perfect behavior. It is much better to carry your mateloved one on your heart, giving him or her the benefit of the doubt, believing they too want the best for your relationship.

Next time your feelings are hurt over specific words, go a little deeper, look to the heart of your loved one or friend. Assume he or she is concerned for your best interest. What does he or he have on his or her heart concerning you? And are you carrying them on your heart?

 

Bill and Pam Farrel
Love-Wise.com

Pam and Bill Farrel help people carry others “on their heart” through their ministry Love-Wise. They are international speakers, the authors of 45 books including A Couples” Journey with God, which inspired today’s post. The Farrels are hosts to the Living Love-Wise Community.

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