Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving—A time to count our blessings!

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
praise Him, all creatures here below;
praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.

My husband and I have been singing the Doxology before every meal for several months, in addition to saying grace. This lifts our spirits out of the mundane tasks or issues of the day and reminds us to count our blessings.

Thanksgiving is traditionally a time to thank God for our blessings. Many of us take for granted our good fortune, our good health and our freedom. Paul urges us go give thanks in all circumstances. Give thanks even when we’re unhappy? What a revolutionary idea. Paul lives this out and so do other remarkable Christians.

Benjamin Weir, a missionary, was imprisoned for 16 months in Lebanon under terrible conditions in 1984-85. In an interview immediately after his release, reporters asked how he spent his time; how did he cope with boredom and despair? His answer stunned the reporters. He said simply, “Counting my blessings.” He went on to say: “Some days I got to take a shower. Sometimes there were some vegetables in my food.  And I could always be thankful for the love of my family.”
We can understand the astonishment of the reporters. Most of us fail to count our blessings in the midst of abundance. We relax in our comfortable homes. We feast daily on plenty of food. We enjoy freedom. Friends and family surround us. We take our blessings for granted much of the time.

Most of us spend part of each day, week or month complaining, feeling depressed, forlorn, or angry about some circumstance we’re facing that isn’t to our liking. Usually minor annoyances are the cause our angst.

We need to thank God for our blessings daily. We need to cultivate an attitude of gratitude even when we’re down. When we consistently count our blessings we notice God’s abundant provision for us. Counting our blessings brings us closer to him. It helps us remember God’s in charge. It helps us put our trust completely in Him.

This doesn’t mean we never suffer or feel depressed. When we face a major crisis or tragedy, we will grieve. We may go through more tears and sorrow than we’ve ever known before. But in the midst of this we can also count our blessings. We can be thankful for tears that help us express our pain. We can look for and be thankful for a lesson in what we’re going through. 

Singing the doxology at every meal can help us establish an attitude of gratitude. This Thanksgiving Day let’s count our blessings.

Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
                                                                                                1 Thessalonians 5:18
Blessings, Dottie

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

What is the secret to closeness? 
Love involves knowing someone. We must allow the other person to know us and vice versa. The problem is most of us spend a great deal of time and energy avoiding being known. We share little about our deepest longings and beliefs. Self disclosure is difficult because we want so much to be loved. So we present ourselves in ways we think will be acceptable to the other person. We hide what we consider to be our flaws.
We also hide our inner self because we were never taught how to reveal it. Our parents didn't model this for us. Instead, we saw them in fixed roles that they had adopted in their distant past. We learned to adopt roles to conceal our inner selves.
We also hide to avoid change. Opening up to others requires changing our usual behavior. It changes our image of ourselves. It is much easier to continue to behave in routine ways and to never take risks in our relationships. 
To create a vital marriage it’s essential to reveal yourself. If you reveal yourself it will encourage your partner to do so. This means telling him or her your innermost feelings. It does not mean blasting him or her with anger. In order to get a rose bud to open up you do not pry open the petals. Human beings need gentle treatment. Start by commenting on things that please you or by telling him or her about happy events, or dreams or wishes.

Don’t expect this to help overnight. Your partner may not respond to this as you hope. In fact, you may get a response that upsets you. For example, your partner may laugh at your expression of feeling. If your partner laughs or reacts negatively this may simply mean the change in you scares or surprises him or her.

Handle any negative reaction you have to your partner’s response by revealing it without blaming. For example, you might say, "I was laughed at as a child and felt shamed and so your laughter bothered me." If possible give a specific example from your childhood. 
Another important reason to self disclose is that we don't know ourselves unless we open up.  When we hide things from others we end up also hiding them from ourselves. Hiding things takes a great deal of energy and puts our minds and bodies under stress. Although you would like your partner to open up to you, you can only work on your side of things and begin to open up to him/her. 

God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love - like Christ in everything.”  Ephesians 4:15 The Message

Blessings, Dottie