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everyday life inside the fishbowl

Thursday Thoughts: “Of Whiners and Worshipers”

ImageOur Ladies Bible Fellowship at church has started studying Scripture that has to do with gratitude, along with Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ excellent book, Choosing Gratitude. For the next several Thursdays, I will share what we are learning. It’s been a great study so far. I encourage you to read the book! Today’s focus is chapter 5. (You can read about chapter 4 here.)

Nancy begins this chapter by reminding us that we are either grateful people or ungrateful, whiners or worshipers. She gave the moving example of the famous blind hymn-writer, Fanny Crosby. Blindness itself would cause many to complain, but can you imagine knowing that your blindness was caused by the mistake of a doctor? This doctor ordered hot compresses on her 6-week old eyes in order to cure an eye infection. Rather than curing anything, the compresses rather led to permanent blindness!

Rather than complaining, however, Nancy notes Fanny’s response:

I could not have written thousands of hymns if I had been hindered by the distractions of seeing all the interesting and beautiful objects that would have been presented to my notice. . . . It seemed intended by the blessed providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank Him for the dispensation (italics added, p 79).

This godly woman chose to worship God rather than to whine about her (tragic!) circumstances. We need to be diligent to recognize our complaining–even in the midst of great trials–as an act of “un-worship.” Instead, we must worship! Nancy encouraged us to listen to ourselves relating the everyday events of our lives, because “gratitude is a revealer of the heart, not just a reporter of details” (p. 80).

This chapter gave 6 differences between someone who is a whiner/ungrateful person and someone who is a worshiper/grateful person. Which characteristics most closely mark your life?

  1. A grateful person is a humble person, while ingratitude reveals a proud heart (80-82).

When I look at my own life and conversations, I realized that I will often complain about things in order to get sympathy. Why is that? It is because, in my pride, I feel like I deserve better. The sympathy I get soothes my proud heart.

  1. A grateful heart is God-centered and others-conscious, while an ungrateful person is self-centered and self-conscious (82-85).

“Ungrateful people are bent on gratifying themselves. They tend to focus on ‘my needs,’ ‘my hurts,’ ‘my feelings,’ ‘my desires,’ ‘how I have been treated, neglected, failed, or wounded” (p. 84). Not so Christ, the epitome of selflessness and humility (cf. Philippians 2)!

Nancy also noted something very interesting: “A common end result of ingratitude is the sin of moral impurity. A person who is wrapped up in herself. . . is prime bit for a tempter who thrives on accusing God of being unfair and ungenerous. An ungrateful heart is quick to notice when self is feeling unsatisfied, and is vulnerable to resorting to sinful acts and behaviors in an attempt to eliminate pain and experience personal pleasure” (p. 84).

Initially, I thought the connection between ingratitude and immorality was just interesting, but then I found a passage in Scripture that taught the connection!

Ephesians 5:3-4 “But SEXUAL IMMORALITY and all IMPURITY or COVETOUSNESS must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no FILTHINESS nor FOOLISH TALK nor CRUDE JOKING, which are out of place, but INSTEAD LET THERE BE THANKSGIVING.

Paul is not just contrasting the verbal sins of foolish talk and crude joking with thanksgiving. He is also contrasting sexual immorality, impurity, covetousness, and filthiness with thanksgiving. One commentator states: “Instead of the self-centeredness which characterizes sexual impurity, thanksgiving embodies a recognition of the Creator and his goodness” (Lincoln, WBC).

  1. A grateful heart is a full heart, while an unthankful heart is an empty one (85-87).

Paul, from a Roman dungeon and having only the basic necessities to live, said that he had “received full payment, and more. I am well supplied” (Phil 4:18).  Nancy asks the penetrating question, What would your note from prison have sounded like?” (p. 86)

  1. People with grateful hearts are easily contented, while ungrateful people are subject to bitterness and discontent (87-89).

Though “details and reasons vary,” Nancy has noted that “one of the chief reasons behind a pervasive sense of blues and blahness [in women who are “chronically unhappy, ‘down,’ or depressed”] is a failure to be thankful” (88).

“Ungrateful people tend to hold tightly to their rights. And when others fail to perform the way they want or expect them to, they feel justified in making demands and retaliating emotionally” (p. 88).

Nancy asks, “As a rule, are you easily contented with what God provides, or do you find yourself resenting difficult circumstances or people and becoming demanding or depressed when others fail to meet your expectations? (89)

  1. A grateful heart will be revealed and expressed by thankful words, while and unthankful heart will manifest itself in murmuring and complaining (89-91).

“Hear what people are saying when they talk about the everyday events of their lives, and you’ll see in an instant the difference between gratitude and ingratitude” (p. 90).

  1. Thankful people are refreshing, life-giving springs, while unthankful people pull others down with them into the stagnant pools of their selfish, demanding, unhappy ways (91-93).

We want to be people who make “Jesus and His gospel winsome to all who come within the reach of [our] grateful, ‘happy spirit’” (p. 93).

After reading through these characteristics, I sadly find myself falling more often than not into the whining category. By God’s grace and by some disciplined thinking and speaking, I want to rather be a worshiper.

So, what are you? Are you a worshiper or a whiner?

{On Thursdays, I share some thoughts about what God is teaching me in my various roles as a Christian, a woman, a wife, a mother, and a pastor’s wife.}

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Worthy Word Wednesday: “Keep Calm and . . . ” :)

Moms, need I say more? My son even has the giraffe, “Spot,” whom he carries around. Also required, however, is the blanket that is wrapped securely without any body parts below the neck showing around the giraffe! 🙂

Happy Wednesday!

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Tasty Tuesday: Homemade Guacamole

ImageI remember that once-upon-a-time I didn’t really know what avocados tasted like. Whenever I ordered Red Robin’s BLTA (Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato, and Avocado) wrap, I would request {the now-unthinkable request!} no avocado.

Then I married my husband, the man who has been making guacamole (made out of avocados for those of you who do not know that) since he was a boy. He then taught me how to make guacamole, and we eat it ALL the time! It actually amazes me that people buy store-bought guacamole, seeing that it is so incredibly easy (and much more delicious and probably cheaper) to make.

I am constantly surprised, however, at the number of people who have never had guacamole. I think they must be afraid of it because of the long name and the green color?? 😉

Here is my husband’s basic recipe. It is very basic, because guacamole is very basic! You can obviously use more than 2 avocados, but you would obviously increase the ratio of the other ingredients as well.

Ingredients:

  • 2 avocados
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • Chopped onion, to taste (I don’t like the onion crunch, so we use onion powder, to taste)
  • ½-1 roma tomato, chopped (you can actually use any tomato you want)
  • Lemon juice (if we don’t have fresh lemons, we just use half a cap-full of lemon juice)

Directions:

  • Cut the avocados in half (there is a big seed in the middle, which you will remove)
  • Scoop out the avocado flesh with a spoon into a bowl
  • Add salt, pepper, and onion
  • Mash the avocado (we use a potato masher)
  • Add tomato and lemon juice; stir with spoon until tomato is well-incorporated

Avocado Tips:

  • The ripeness of the avocado you buy should be determined by when you are planning on using the avocado. If I’m planning on using it the day of or day after I buy it, I look for very dark green (almost black) that are slightly soft when I gently squeeze them.
  • If it is going to be a few days before I use the avocados, I buy the brighter green ones.
  • If I want to hurry up the ripening process, I put my avocados in a paper bag with several apples, then close up the paper bag, leaving it on the counter. Works great!
  • Another way to assess the ripeness of an avocado is by looking at the brown “plug” (I don’t know what it is actually called) on the skin of the avocado. If you remove that, a ripe avocado will be bright green underneath. An over-ripe avocado will be brown. (I always remove that plug first anyway, because it may accidentally get spooned out with the rest of the avocado flesh; no fun biting into that!)
  • One of the reasons to put lemon juice in the guac, is that avocados begin to brown very quickly as soon as they are open to oxygen. Even when you do put leftover guac with lemon juice in the fridge, it will likely start to brown. We often cover all the surface area with plastic wrap (right against the guac), then put the lid on the bowl. This helps, but not completely. Even if it does start to brown on top, it is still ok to eat; just stir it up (the bottom should still be bright green). If it has been sitting for more than a couple days, it may brown all the way through and taste over-ripe.

And that, my friends, is how you make guacamole. Super easy, delicious, and healthy too!

Enjoy! 🙂

{On Tuesdays, I share a yummy recipe. Typically, my recipes will be super easy, because I’m a mom with littles. I try to be healthy and frugal as well. But I like good food, so it will always be delicious! }

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Frugal Friday: Amazing Pre-Reading Program for Preschoolers!

ImageI wanted to take a post to share about a program that I have been using with my son, Calvin (4 next month) for about a year. The company is called All About Learning Press. I am currently using their All About Reading Pre-reading curriculum, and I love it.

Our Story

I started using the curriculum right after Calvin turned 3. Initially, I attempted doing it 3 days a week with him. Although he did fine with the letters themselves, he wasn’t quite ready for some of the other activities, like rhyming and such. I backed down to maybe one lesson a week, until I saw that Calvin was really starting to grasp rhyming and the other concepts. Several months ago, it seemed like something just clicked in his brain, and he suddenly started rhyming all the time. He has also started recognizing the sounds that letters make. (For example, outside of a lesson, he will see a dog and say, “Dog and jog rhyme!” Or he will say, “d-d-dog. . . dog starts with d!”). So, we are back to 3 days a week now.

The Program

What I really love about this program is the way it is set up. The website for pre-reading states:

Your student will learn five very important pre-reading skills: Print Awareness, Phonological Awareness, Letter Knowledge, Listening Comprehension, and Motivation to Read. These skills lay the foundation for learning to read. Below is a sampling in each area.

Letter Knowledge

Learn to recognize capital letters
Learn to recognize lowercase letters
Learn to recite the alphabet song

Phonological Awareness

Learn to blend sounds orally to make a word
Learn to clap syllables
Learn rhyming and word boundaries
Identify the beginning and ending sounds in a word

Print Awareness

Understand that the words on the page can be read
Understand that books are read from cover to back, and sentences are read from left to right

Listening Comprehension

Answer simple questions about a story
Learn to retell a story in his own words
Ask pertinent questions about a story

Motivation to Read

Cultivate an enthusiasm for learning
Instill a delight for books and reading
Observe situations in which reading is beneficial
Establish a desire to learn to read and write

The Cost

The deluxe package is obviously the most expensive at $119.95 (+ S&H, I think). This includes all the basics including a lot of extras, like a puppet, a bag to carry everything in, stickers, etc. You can see all what is included at the link I posted above.

The basic package is $79.95 (+ S&H, I think). This includes the basics (obviously).

I wanted to cut costs a little bit more, so I will share what I bought, which has worked well for us:

  • Teacher’s Manual-$22
  • Student Packet-$24.95
  • Divider Cards-$4.95
  • Total-$51.90 (+ S&H, I think)

Because I didn’t buy everything in the packages (like the two rhyming books, the activity box, and Ziggy the Zebra puppet), I did have to make a few small modifications. I have a couple books of kids poems, and I would just use a poem that had a capital A in the title if we were studying the letter A. Not difficult (except for X :)). Instead of the activity box, I bought a good ol’ index card file box–works great. And instead of Ziggy the Zebra who always plays the learning activities with your child, I used what I had–Mr. Snaky the Snake! Easy enough, AND it saved me almost $30!

Plus, when I use this program for Mackenna in the future, the only thing that I will have to buy is the Activity Book (Calvin’s was included in the Student’s Packet) for $16.95!

You can clearly see that I love this program. Calvin enjoys it too, and even Mackenna (just-turned-2) can already sing basically the whole alphabet! I highly recommend this program, and I would encourage you to consider it for your preschoolers.

{On Fridays, I attempt to pass along a frugal tip I have learned or am attempting to learn. I love a good deal, and I love to help our family stay within the budget by being frugal in every area of life!}

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Thursday Thoughts: “Why Choose Gratitude?”

ImageOur Ladies Bible Fellowship at church has started studying Scripture that has to do with gratitude, along with Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ excellent book, Choosing Gratitude. For the next several Thursdays, I will share what we are learning. It’s been a great study so far. I encourage you to read the book! Today’s focus is chapter 4. (You can read about chapter 3 here.)

In her introduction, Nancy tells of Matthew Henry, a well-known commentator of old, who was robbed when he was in London. Nancy quotes his response to the situation on page 62 of her book:

Let me be thankful, first, because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.

What an amazing way to view a very bad situation. I think he gives us a great example as to how to be truly thankful in a situation without mindlessly mouthing words of gratitude for being robbed (i.e., “Well, I’m supposed to be thankful for everything, so I guess I’m thankful for being robbed.”)

This chapter simply gives 8 answers to the question in the chapter’s title, “Why Choose Gratitude?”:

  1. Gratitude is a matter of obedience (pp 62-63).
  • Colossians 3:16-17 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, GIVING THANKS TO GOD THE FATHER THROUGH HIM.”
  • And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” This obedient thanksgiving is evidence that Christ’s Word richly dwells in us.
  1. Gratitude draws us close (pp 63-65).
  • Psalm 69:30 ~ I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.
  • {In all good conscience, I must make one clarification here. While I certainly believe that gratitude as a matter of obedience draws us close to God, I do believe that the verses Nancy uses do not directly support her claim that gratitude draws us close to God. Again, I believe that it does, but I would personally not use this verse or the other verses she lists in this section to support that statement.}
  • “See if expressing gratitude to the Lord doesn’t ‘magnify’ Him in your own eyes, increasing your depth perception of this One. . . . See if the practice of intentional gratitude doesn’t transport you even nearer to Him” (NLD, 64-65).
  1. Gratitude is a sure path to peace (pp 65-67).
  • Again, one more clarification: It is a “sure” path, assuming one is also striving to walk in other aspects of God’s will.
  • Philippians 4:6-7 ~ Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
  • One of Nancy’s online discussion questions asked: “According to Philippians 4:6-7, prayer is not all we can or should do in disquieting situations. What–plus prayer–equals peace, according to this passage? (p. 66) How have you experienced this?”

Thanksgiving + Prayer = Peace. When there are specific situations that frustrate or worry me, it is good to pray about them, praying for God’s will and even praying that God might change or take away the problem (realizing that is not always God’s will). It is calming to lay my burdens at his feet, but more so to do so with a heart that is thankful for who God is and how he may be working through that difficult situation for His glory and my good.

  1. Gratitude is a gauge of the heart (pp 67-69).
  • “When you catch yourself being grateful to God for His obvious and even His more subtle (or hard to understand) forms of blessing, it’s an indication that your heart is being drawn to His, and that you believe He is good, faithful, and can be trusted” (NLD, 67)
  • Psalm 140:13 ~ Surely the righteous shall give thanks to your name; the upright shall dwell in your presence.

Interestingly, this psalm (140) is one of many laments. “This individual lament serves the needs of people under threat from ungodly people who intend serious harm” (ESV note). Even in the midst of threat, we are to give thanks; this is an indicator of our “righteous” hearts.

  • “Giving of thanks is an indicator of our true heart condition. Those who have been made righteous by the grace of God will be thankful people” (NLD, 67).
  • In another discussion question, Nancy told of an interview with Joni Eareckson Tada, who was paralyzed at a young age:  “Joni told Nancy that she’s just disciplined herself to ‘give thanks in all things,’ so now it’s become a reflex reaction. Do you agree that expressing gratitude is a discipline? (p. 68)”

I do believe that the practice of gratitude is a discipline, but it should never be simply a rote response. We can voice “praise the Lord” automatically without meaning it. We must discipline our minds to be ever aware of God’s goodness so that we think–and speak–with gratitude consistently.

  1. Gratitude is the will of God  (pp 69-70).
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:18 ~ Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
  • Looking for God’s will? Well, here it is, in part: thankfulness in all circumstances!
  1. Gratitude is an evidence of being filled with the Spirit (pp 70-71).
  • Ephesians 5:18, 20 ~ And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit. . . . Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Just as we would not believe an abuser or embezzler is being filled with the Spirit, “no more, then, can we believe that a person who habitually gripes, murmurs, and worries about his pressures and problems, rather than ‘giving thanks for everything,’ is filled with the Spirit! The fact is, we cannot whine and complain and be filled with the Spirit at the same time” (NLD, 71). Sobering!
  1. Gratitude reflects Jesus’ heart (pp 72-74).
  • Luke 10:21 ~ In that same hour he [Jesus] rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.
  • Jesus “gave Himself to God and to the world, not under coercion, but with abandon and . . . with gratitude, grateful for the privilege of obeying His Father and of fulfilling the mission He had been sent to earth to complete” (NLD, 74).
  1. Gratitude gets us ready for heaven (pp 74-75).
  • Revelation 4:9-11 “And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, ‘Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.’”
  • Rev 7:11-12 “And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, ‘Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.’”
  • Rev 11:16-18 “And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying, ‘We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign. The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.’”
  • “Every time we speak and live out our thankfulness here on this very temporary base of operations, we join our voices with the grand chorus of gratitude that wells up before the throne of God, and we prepare ourselves for what we’ll be doing throughout all eternity, glorifying and thanking Him for all He is and all He has done. So think of today as a ‘dress rehearsal’” (NLD, 75).

Just one of these 8 reasons should be ample motivation to choose gratitude. I so often fail, yet God is a patient God, who continuously pours grace on me, giving me even more reason to praise him and give thanks. I so look forward to joining the throng around the throne giving thanks to my Creator and Redeemer!

{On Thursdays, I share some thoughts about what God is teaching me in my various roles as a Christian, a woman, a wife, a mother, and a pastor’s wife.}

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Thursday Thoughts: “No Thanks”

ImageOur Ladies Bible Fellowship at church has started studying Scripture that has to do with gratitude, along with Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ excellent book, Choosing Gratitude. For the next several Thursdays, I will share what we are learning. It’s been a great study so far. I encourage you to read the book! Today’s focus is chapter 3. You can read about chapter 2 here.

On pages 50-51 in her book, Nancy talks about feeling thankful, yet never expressing it. She asked whether we believe it is not a big deal or whether we believe it is actually a dangerous thing not to express thanks. As I thought about this I realized that a failure to express gratitude may lead to a failure to consciously think thankfully, which may lead to ingratitude as our first mental response. We have to train ourselves to be thankful, and if we start to slip in our verbal thanks, it is far too easy to slip into thankless thought patterns as well.

We studied Romans 1, a chapter that discusses in part the root of ingratitude as well as the outworking of ingratitude in the lives of unbelievers. Verses 18 and following discuss the wrath of God upon those who choose to suppress what they know about God in order to live how they want. Everyone has at least a limited knowledge of God. We can all see his eternal power and divine nature in what He has created (v 20). But, “this limited knowledge of God falls short of what is necessary to establish a relationship with him. KNOWLEDGE MUST LEAD TO REVERENCE AND GRATITUDE. This it has failed to do. Instead of acknowledging God ‘as God,’ by glorifying him and thanking him, human beings perverted their knowledge and sank into idolatry” (Moo, NICNT, emphasis mine).

Especially of note for our study was Romans 1:21:

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

I remember my former pastor preaching on this passage. He made a comment which radically changed my thoughts on ingratitude. I wrote Pastor Harding’s words in the margin of my Bible:

The nature of ingratitude is willfully failing to attribute to God the characteristics that make up His person.

Wow! Doesn’t that change the way we look at our complaining, our ingratitude? It should! I gave a very minor, everyday experience as an example. Say that I had planned out a Saturday at the park with my family, complete with a picnic–no chance of rain on the forecast. And then say that we wake up to a cloudy, rainy day. I have a choice to either be thankful for the rain and for other opportunities to have fun with my children. . . or I can complain about the weather (which would likely be my first reaction, unfortunately). But what do I communicate to my family, even my God when I complain? I communicate that I don’t like the way that God has ordained the weather. I put his goodness and his sovereignty into question.

Clearly, this is a minor example, but I think it helps us think through what we are really doing when we complain. And if we studied the rest of the chapter, you can see the outworking of one’s refusal to habitually give thanks to God and to honor him as God. These are people who reject God. They exchange the glory of God for the worship of false idols (vv 23-24). They exchange the truth of God for a lie (v 25). Men and women exchange their natural function for that which is unnatural (i.e., homosexuality; vv 26-27). And what does God do? God gives them up the cycle of sin to which they have already given themselves over to (cf. Eph 4:19). Thus they end up doing: all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil, envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice, gossip, slander, hate God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, invent evil, disobey parents, no understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful (vv 28-32).

A refusal to thank God shows a heart of willful unbelief. “The root sin is the failure to value God above all things, so that he is not honored and praised as he should be” (ESV note, Rom 1:21). The root sin of thanklessness, along with idolatry, homosexuality, and the other vices listed is failure to value God supremely.

Unbelief and rejection of God are at the heart of unthankfulness. May Christians be a thankful people, evidencing their belief in and honor of our God.  May unbelievers come to a true knowledge of God, so they may exchange the lies they believe for the truth about God and so they may worship and serve the Creator rather than the creature. There is ONE God who deserves our worship and our thankfulness.

Getting practical, Nancy talked about five instigators of ingratitude of which we need to be wary (pp 53-57):

  1. Unrealistic expectations: “Needing God but not always wanting God, we expect others to take the place of God in our lives.”
  2. Forgetfulness: I was encouraged to do a study of forgetting and remembering in Deuteronomy and Psalms!
  3. Entitlement: “Building our. . . self-esteem. . . [leads to] this super-high level of deservedness.”
  4. Comparison: “Any time our focus is on ourselves–even if it’s on the good things we’re doing–it keeps us from being grateful for what others are contributing.”
  5. Blindness to God’s grace. “We are the debtors. . . . Paul listed ingratitude (ungratefulness) right in the middle of such evil companions as abusiveness, heartlessness, brutishness, and treachery (2 Timothy 3:1-5).”

One of Nancy’s discussion questions (found here if you’re interested) said, “There is a battle to be waged if we are going to resist the natural descent into ingratitude. This descent usually begins as the wonder of all Christ did in redeeming our lost souls and making us His precious daughters fades from our memories. What practical steps can we take in this battle against ingratitude?” Here are just a few practical things I thought of  as I seek to battle ingratitude in my life:

  • Remember the Gospel. Bring it up in conversations. When you give the Gospel, share your personal testimony as well.
  • Pray/praise specifically.
  • Every time you complain, recognize it as sin and confess it to God (and those who heard if possible) immediately. Then proceed to be thankful for some aspect of the situation about which you complained.
  • Try to recognize patterns of ingratitude; i.e., take note of those things that you’ve noticed most easily spur you to ingratitude (health issues, whining kids, bad weather, traffic jams, housecleaning, etc). When you enter the situation that is one that usually spurs you to ingratitude, plan ahead to be thankful.
  • Know your God. As you truly know him, it is easier to acknowledge him for who he is and to be thankful.

I hope this synopsis of this chapter has been helpful for you. I found it extremely convicting as I pondered what I am really doing when I am ungrateful–not acknowledging God for who he is! May God help us to acknowledge him for who he is, and evidence that acknowledgement through grateful thoughts, lives, and speech!

{On Thursdays, I share some thoughts about what God is teaching me in my various roles as a Christian, a woman, a wife, a mother, and a pastor’s wife.}

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Worthy Word Wednesday: Proactively Preventing Whining

One of my favorite blogs, girltalk, has been writing a series on teaching our children to deal correctly with their emotions. It has been a great series from which I have greatly benefited. Yesterday, Carolyn wrote a post in the series entitled, Helping Children Make a Habit of Cheerfulness. She started her post by remembering the constant fussing, fighting, and whining that took place between her daughters when they were very young.

Now that my youngest is two and definitely her “own person,” I have seen this same issue between her and my almost-4-year old. I was actually just talking to a friend that I needed to find a solution, because the constant whining (especially right after nap time as I was preparing dinner) was driving me insane. Not to mention that allowing them to whine and fight teaches them to deal with emotions in a sinful way.

There were two things that especially challenged me in Carolyn’s post.The first was something I know but haven’t really done regarding this issue:

Seek God for wisdom as to how to create a family culture that minimizes temptation. In teaching our children to handle their emotions, we want to create an environment that reinforces the habit of cheerfulness. 

I had failed to seek God for wisdom for this particular issue. In my praying that God would give me patience, in my praying that God would grant my children salvation and obedience, I had not prayed that God would grant me wisdom as to how to practically teach my children not to whine and to be cheerful instead.

The second thing that challenged me was some practical advice that Carolyn herself learned:

My children needed a little more structure. In their case, idleness was contributing to grumpiness. The routine served my girls by eliminating some of the temptations as they played together every day, all day long. They simply had fewer opportunities to be grumpy or discontent.

I am a fairly organized person, and my children are on a pretty regular schedule for naps, meals, etc. But I believe that (for our family; Carolyn mentioned that this might not be the solution for everyone) putting my kids on a bit more of a routine during the other daytime activities will help eliminate boredom and alleviate the temptation to whine.

I would encourage you to read the other posts in this series! What have you done to teach your children not to whine and to be cheerful instead?

{On Wednesdays, I share from a book, blog, or other resource some “worthy words.” I love to read, but my time for reading has been much decreased since the birth of my first child. I am encouraged when I am able to read snippets of precious truth as I come across them. Hopefully these few words will encourage your heart, as well as give you a resource for fuller reading as your time allows.}

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Tasty Tuesday: How to Peel an Apple in 3 Seconds

490px-My_Mother_Peeling_Appleshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S1hTKfkJtzM

Tired of using your apple peeler (or knife)? Especially on those apple pie- or applesauce-making days? Follow the link above and try this tip! Enjoy! 🙂

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Monday Meditations: A Word to the Wealthy {that means you and I!}

piles-of-moneyYesterday, Dave preached from 1 Timothy 6:17-19. It is a passage to which I have never paid too much attention, because I have never considered myself wealthy. However, Dave reminded us of the great wealth that Americans do have, compared to the rest of the world.  One article I read stated,

Someone at the poverty line in the United States is in the top 14% of the global income distribution.

Hmmm. And I’m not even at the poverty level in the US! With that perspective, I can most certainly (and most likely you can too) apply this passage to myself.

Dave made 5 observations from the text (which I will have to summarize, because I don’t have my notes):

  1. We are not to be haughty regarding our riches (v. 17).

Dave cited Proverbs 18:11-12 ~ “A rich man’s wealth is his strong city, and like a high wall in his imagination. Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.” When a wealthy person is proud concerning his wealth, he feels like he is impenetrable. However, such pride and dependence on wealth will cause sure destruction.

  1. We are not to set our hopes on the uncertainty of riches (v. 17).

Wealth is never certain–especially in an unstable economy. When Jesus was teaching a crowd in Luke 12, a listener asked Jesus to command his brother to divide the inheritance with him (v. 13). Jesus warned him about guarding against covetousness (v. 15), then told the parable of the rich fool (vv. 16-21):

And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

  1. We are to rather set our hopes on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy (v. 17).

God is certain. He is the only one upon whom we can set our hopes who will never fail us. Beyond this, he does richly provide us with everything we have to enjoy. We enjoy many of the good things and the comforts that are provided us.

Far greater than any earthly provision is the rich provision that God offers through his Son, Jesus Christ.

Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:12-13).

  1. We who are wealthy are to do good with our wealth (v. 18).

We are to be rich in good works.

We are to be generous.

We are to be ready to share.

  1. When we are generous with the wealth we have here, we store up greater treasure for the future (v. 19).

As God blesses us with varying levels of wealth, we are to be generous with that wealth. As we are generous, we are laying a good foundation for the future. We are taking hold of that which is truly life.

In other words, part of our persevering as a believer, part of our working out our salvation, part of our preparing for heaven. . . is generosity.

As important and necessary as it is to look to the near future in planning and saving for our kids’ college funds, wedding funds, and our retirements, let us not forget that these things too are only temporary. Let us look beyond to the eternal future, building for it a good foundation and investing in eternal treasure today!

{On Mondays, I share some thoughts from my pastor’s (husband’s) sermon on Sunday. This will be good for me, as it will help cement God’s truths in my head and heart. I hope these truths will encourage and challenge you! If you’re interested in hearing a particular sermon, you can head here to listen.}

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Worthy Word Wednesday: “Why do you tell your child a thing twenty times?”

ImageWhat encouragement! I hope this encourages your weary soul today!

“Why do you tell your child a thing twenty times?” asked some one of a mother. “Because,” said she, “I find nineteen times is not enough.” Now, when a soul is to be ploughed, it may so happen that hundreds of furrows will not do it. What then? Why, plough all day till the work is done. Whether you are ministers, missionaries, teachers, or private soul-winners, never grow weary, for your work is noble, and the reward of it is infinite. The grace of God is seen in our being permitted to engage in such holy service; it is greatly magnified in sustaining us in it, and it will be pre-eminently conspicuous in enabling us to hold out till we can say, “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” ~Charles Haddon Spurgeon

{P.S. This is my 100th blog post! 🙂 Thanks to all who read and follow my blog. I hope these words encourage your heart and spur you to greater Christlikeness!}

{On Wednesdays, I share from a book, blog, or other resource some “worthy words.” I love to read, but my time for reading has been much decreased since the birth of my first child. I am encouraged when I am able to read snippets of precious truth as I come across them. Hopefully these few words will encourage your heart, as well as give you a resource for fuller reading as your time allows.}

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