As I journal, read the Bible, read devotional and self-help books, listen to podcasts by various Christians and self-help experts, watch TED Talks, etc. I receive an abundance of insights about how to live life better. However, I'm overwhelmed by all that I should think, feel, say, and do differently.
Having too much to focus on, I generally end up applying few, if any, of the principles that were presented to me. I'm like the person described in James 1:22-25, the person who looks into a mirror, sees the truth about what needs readjusting, but chooses to walk away from the mirror without dealing with problem areas. How smart is that???? Although I take in far more insights than I live out, I could experience BIG changes in my life if only I'd choose at least one "flaw" and apply the truth from God's Word to it. Even though I may not have the time or wisdom to do everything I'm shown every day, I'll certainly benefit from choosing to do at least ONE thing differently--and consistently. How about you, Dear Reader? Do you need to learn to incorporate more of God's truths into your life? Will you choose at least one truth and start living by it? Will you begin to do it today? Will you continue to do it tomorrow and the next day, and...?
Had I not received an e-mail this morning informing me that today (Sept. 21) is World Gratitude Day, I wouldn't have known! Based on what I discovered later on the Internet, I've failed--for years--to celebrate this day, which started in 1965 in Hawaii when folks from many nations gathered together and decided it would be a good idea to have one day per year to formally express gratitude. On every Sept. 21st since then, folks all around the world have reflected on the good people and things in their lives. The founders of Gratitude Day believe taking time one day a year to reflect on the amazing things we have will increase our well-being and make us happier, more contented people. Since they're definitely right about the positive effects of feeling grateful, why, I wonder, shouldn't every day be Gratitude Day? Why limit expressing gratitude to only one day of the year (in addition, of course, to celebrating Thanksgiving Day with family and friends)? Couldn't we change attitudes (ours and those of others!) by pausing many times every day to thank God for the many blessings He showers upon us and to find creative ways to express gratitude to the people who enrich our lives in untold ways? The apostle Paul chose to write a letter to his friends to remind them of the love and gratitude he felt for them. Here's a bit of what he said:
He realized, as do we, that when people know they are loved and appreciated, that "makes their day" and inspires them, in turn, to express their gratitude to people who mean so much to them. Let's begin the gratitude chain today and continue itevery dayso that we can help spread gratitude throughout the world!
With Hurricane Irma so much in the news, my heart is heavy
for those whose lives have been so disrupted and those who will lose so much
during the violent storm.
The Holy Spirit brought to mind the words of a song I’ve
known and loved since childhood. “Stand By Me” was written by the Rev. Charles
Albert Tindley in the early 1900’s, but his words continue to be timely ones.
As the hurricane rages, let’s offer these words from that
hymn as a prayer to God: “Thou who
rulest wind and water, stand by me [by us].” That’s also a wonderful prayer when
we’re buffeted by all sorts of storms, such as those Rev. Tindley mentions in
the other verses.
Several years ago, while listening
to Elisabeth Elliot's radio program, Gateway to Joy, I heard
her quote one of Amy Carmichael's poems. I loved the poem, found it on the
Internet, and learned that it was included in the book, Toward
Jerusalem, which is a collection of poems by Amy. But the
poem Elisabeth quoted is one of my favorites.
The poem is actually a prayer Amy
was praying for the children under her care at the Dohnavur Fellowship (a
refuge for underprivileged children) in South India when Amy was a Protestant
missionary there from 1895 until her death in 1951. It's one of the sweetest
prayers I've heard for children.
Copyright restrictions prevent me from sharing
the entire poem, but I can share a summary of her thoughts. She asked God to
protect them from the powers of evil, which can pull them down--like whirlpools
and/or quicksand do. She asked God to guide children through life's troubled
waters and to cheer them in the midst of life's battles.
There's more, much
more, and Amy expressed the deep desire of her heart far better than I can
summarize. I encourage you to buy the book and/or click hereto
read the poem (it's the third one) and then offer her words as your prayer
on behalf of all children.
During a phone call with a dear friend I hadn't talked with in several months, we updated each other on the careers and locations of our children and grandchildren. I could scarcely believe the diversity represented in their lives. Hers lived in different states and had a wide range of careers. My grandchildren, who are younger than hers, are still in school, yet also have a wide array of abilities and interests. As always, I was amazed by all that because I still picture her children and my daughters the way they were 20 plus years ago--still in school and/or just entering the work force. Those children are now parents of children who are as the parents were in what seems such a short time ago.
As I reflected on that, I recalled a prayer I'd heard recently. (See text on photo.) Those ancient words express far better than I ever could the prayer of my own heart regarding myself. And if I paraphrase it slightly, I can also pray it on behalf others, including my children and grandchildren, as well as those of my long-time friend: "Jesus Christ, Lord Almighty, Who didst create them and redeem them and hast brought them now to that which they are, Thou knowest what Thou wilt have them to be. Deal with them according to Thy lovingkindness and show them Thy mercy, Lord. Amen."
At my request, a friend e-mailed me a photo she'd taken of the garden stone someone had given her after her husband passed away. Since then, I've given much thought to what makes a beautiful soul. I've concluded that a beautiful soul is a Christ-like soul. Loving. Giving. Forgiving. Tender. Kind. Humble. Unselfish. Loyal. Honest. Wise. Warm. Welcoming. Authentic. Faithful... People with such beautiful souls do leave a trail of beautiful memories. Consequently, we grieve deeply and for a long time when they pass away. We yearn to be near them again, to be loved by them again, to be nurtured by them again... To be sure their legacy continues, we can follow their example and become beautiful souls who also make beautiful memories and leave a trail of them for our loved ones to cherish--and follow.