Thursday, July 5, 2012

Colorado Fires

Colorado is my home state. I have watched the progression of the fires that have devastated many homes, businesses and lives. It has been sad to watch and unnerving to hear from frantic friends and family about their fears for those they know in the affected areas. It has been a matter of prayer and will continue to be until the fires are out.

My friend Barbara has a son who was evacuated and without work for a time and now returned home. She has kept a close eye on all the news and information provided. Today she sent me some interactive sites that show the spread of the fires over a map. It was a fearful scene to watch the fires spread so very quickly. You can see it here:

The second link she sent was also an interactive link that showed the burned homes and neighborhoods affected by the devouring fires. You can see this here:

As I wandered through these pictures,seeing one house standing and others destroyed, I was reminded of Jesus' words. He told his followers: Luke 17:31-36
New King James Version (NKJV)
31 “In that day, he who is on the housetop, and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away. And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back. 32 Remember Lot’s wife. 33 Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. 34 I tell you, in that night there will be two men in one bed: the one will be taken and the other will be left. 35 Two women will be grinding together: the one will be taken and the other left. 36 Two men will be in the field: the one will be taken and the other left.”

This passage is about the end of days, not about this fire. The fire simply provides a visual lesson about what it might be like for people to be snatched away even as they are near others. The fires are reversed from this lesson from Jesus. Those who are gone may seem to be destroyed but they will be taken into heaven to be with the Lord. Those left will remain in a time of confusion and disaster. I would want all those I know and love to be with the ones taken away, not with those left behind.

Where will you be?

Father, You are in control of all things. You are good even when things seem so wrong in our world. You are the love and comfort that the people in Colorado need right now. Forgive us when we tend to make You the author of bad things happening to good people. Thank You for Your loving care of all Your children in good and bad times. Show us the way to be Your heart, hands and feet to those in need. Bring us together in unity to work as a body to bring the light of Your Son, Jesus, into the world befor the last days!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Thanksgiving Freedoms

Many years ago my husband kindly sat me down and gently reprimanded me. I had been complaining about all sorts of things and he lovingly pointed out that I was ungrateful. My complaints were not about him, mind you, but about the things I had or didn't have. I was taken by surprise, but knew that it was true and a change was made in my heart.

This year I have taken the dare to write down 1000 gifts and be thankful for them. Ann Voskamp, in her writings, has revealed the truth about thanksgiving and living minute to minute with a grateful heart. A new change is beginning in me and every day I see things and people more and more as gifts. My heart is full of gratitude for the gift of Ann and her words that seem so timely right now.

Yesterday, I read one of her blogs that listed 6 Reasons Why to Teach Kids to be Grateful the research can only support Scriptural Truth. (Froh, Sefick, Emmons, 2008) I was immediately aware that this is not only truth for children but for everyone. Here is what I read and how I see it work in my life.

1. Better Attitudes - Thanksgiving grows a positive attitude even in the hard soil of challenges, disappointments, or failure.

2. Better Achieve Personal Goals - The discipline of writing down our gifts spills over into life goals and the stream of grateful words becomes a river of life change.

3. Closer Relationships, Greater Happiness - We all need closer relationships and long for greater happiness. Seeing people through the lens of gratitude makes them a happy gift to us that gives joy to our days. People are lovelier and friendlier when we are thankful for their presence in our lives. Being surrounded by a beautiful crowd of people makes us smile, doesn't it?

4. Better Grades - Now it may seem that we as adults are not graded, but we are evaluated by many in our lives. The authority in our lives grade us on many things. Employers evaluate our work, banks and credit card companies watch our performance with money and treat us accordingly. Children watch us closely too.

5. Greater Energy, Attentiveness, Enthusiasm - The start of writing down gifts is like wading in mud, but soon the mud becomes a trickle and then a stream and a river flowing out into the ocean of gifts awaiting for our pleasure and filling our grateful hearts.

6 Greater Sensitivity - Gratitude opens our eyes to the world around us. We see clearly the needs of others and our hands are ready to reach out and help because we know it, too, will be a gift.

Finally the article ends with the consequence of not practicing gratitude. The young people studied showed less satisfaction with their lives. They were more aggressive and took more risks and the list went on. Similarly we adults live in a world of our making, good or bad, depending on our attitude of gratitude.

Today is July 4th and the U.S.A. is celebrating our independence and the blessings of our country. We are a nation that complains way too much, maybe because we have the freedom to do so. I wonder what changes we would see if we became a nation of gratitude? I think it would truly set us free!

Our Father in heaven, You are the author of freedom. You are the Giver of Good gifts! Forgive us for our murmuring and complaining. We fail to see Your good hand in so many things, but You are there working out the good for us. Thank You for my country, Lord. I am blessed to live here by Your choice. Thank You for all of the good people that live with us here. Help us to see the good and work hard to change the bad. Bless America, Father! Bless her with a revolution of thanksgiving!