Saturday, February 7, 2015

In Gratitude.....

This is a continuation of The Invitation, a  previously posted blog challenge.  We are now on Day 6.  Please feel free to read the other days and start at anytime! Incorporate this challenge to fit you!  Weekly, monthly, daily however it will work for you!   All material is original blog material written by Dixie. ( I just borrowed the idea ;)   Scripture suggestions are from my personal study, all thoughts and challenges are from my personal history and my future as I too continue to strive for more closeness to Christ.

Thought for the day:  We are all thankful for the good things in our lives, for the peace for the comforts, for the things that make us happy, for the things that bring us joy.  But what about the burdens, the tragedies, the tough times?  When we study the gospel of Jesus Christ, we learn that we are here on the earth today in order to progress, to learn, to grow, and to be perfected, that we may live again with our Father in Heaven.   In order to do that we must be tried and tested, purged and purified, that we may be made perfect through suffering, that we will learn to put our whole trust and faith in God.  This is something I must think on personally everyday as I live, like many others I am sure, in the refiner’s fire.  I have buried my 20-year-old son, 3-year-old daughter and 34-year-old step son, these are among my heaviest of burdens. I anger not at my Savior though, because of my tragedy.  I love him for death is not the end, and I am a new woman today because of the things I have suffered.  I glory not in the death of my children, I am not happy because of it I am not thankful for it, in that way, but I am thankful for the woman it forced me to become as rather than turning to anger and the ways of the world, I stayed with Father in Heaven and he heals my heart…….my trials have put my faith in a more perfect way….

“We complain sometimes about our trials. We need not do that. These are things that are necessary for our perfection. We think sometimes that we are not rightly treated, and I think we think correctly about some of these things. We think there are plots set on foot to entrap us; and I think we think so very correctly. At the same time we need not be astonished at these things. We need not be amazed at a feeling of hatred and animosity. Why? Because we are living in a peculiar day and age of the world; which is distinctively called the latter days.  I know that as other men we have our trials, afflictions, sorrows, and privations. We meet with difficulties; we have to contend with the world, with the powers of darkness, with the corruptions of men, and a variety of evils; yet at the same time through these things we have to be made perfect. It is necessary that we should have a knowledge of ourselves, of our true position and standing before God, and comprehend our strength and weakness; our ignorance and intelligence, our wisdom and our folly, that we may know how to appreciate true principles, and comprehend and put a proper value upon all things as they present themselves before our minds.  It is necessary that we should know our own weaknesses, and the weaknesses of our fellow men; our own strength as well as the strength of others; and comprehend our true position before God, angels, and men; that we may be inclined to treat all with due respect, and not to over value our own wisdom or strength, nor depreciate it, nor that of others; but put our trust in the living God, and follow after him, and realise that we are his children, and that he is our Father, and that our dependence is upon him, and that every blessing we receive flows from his beneficent hand”.- John Taylor

Penny in the shoe:  today when you feel the penny in your shoe think of something to be grateful for, even small things for we forget many days the tender mercies of the Lord in our daily lives.

Challenge for the day:  When thinking of your trials, your burdens, yours struggles, think of how they have changed you, your life for the good, look at the positive side, be thankful in all things.

Suggested Scripture Reading.  (reading made easy just click a link :) Psalm 34:19  2 Corinthians 4:8–18  1 Peter 4:12–13  Alma 36:3  Ether 12:6  D&C 121:7–8

Journaling thought:  How would your life be different if you had no trials or hardships?  What have you learned about yourself and about God from the things that you have suffered, from your personal Gethsemane?

Thankful for the Thorns

Sandra felt as low as the heels of her shoes as she pushed against a November gust and the florist shop door.  Her life and been easy, like a spring breeze.  Then in the fourth month of her second pregnancy, a minor automobile accident stole her ease.  During this Thanksgiving week she would have delivered a son.She grieved over her loss.  As if that weren’t enough, her husband’s company threatened a transfer, then her sister, whose holiday visit she coveted, called saying she could not come.  What’s worse, Sandra’s friend infuriated her by suggesting her grief was a God-given path to maturity that would allow her to empathize with others who suffer.  “Had she lost a Child?  No, she has no idea what I’m feeling.”  Sandra shuddered.  Thanksgiving?  Thankful for what? she wondered.  For a careless driver whose truck was hardly scratched when he rear ended her?  For an airbag that saved her life but took that of her child? “Good afternoon, can I help you?” The flower shop clerk’s approach startled her, “sorry,” said Jenny.  I just didn’t want you to think I was ignoring you.”I……I need an arrangement” spouted Sandra.  “For Thanksgiving?” Sandra nodded. “Do you want beautiful ordinary, or would you like to challenge the day with a customer favorite I call “thanksgiving special.” Jenny saw Sandra’s curiosity and continued, ” I’m convinced that flowers tell stories, that each arrangement insinuates a particular feeling.  Are you looking for something that conveys gratitude this Thanksgiving?” “Not exactly!” Sandra blurted.  “Sorry, but in the last five months everything that could go wrong has.”  Sandra regretted her outburst but was surprised when Jenny said, ” I have the perfect arrangement for you.” The door’s small bell suddenly rang, “Barbara Hi!” Jenny said.  She politely excused herself from Sandra and walked toward a small workroom.  She quickly reappeared carrying a massive arrangement of green bows, and long-stemmed thorny roses.  Only the ends of the rose stems were neatly snipped, no flowers.  “Want this in a box?” Jenny asked. Sandra watched for Barbara’s response.  Was this a joke?  Who would want rose stems and no flowers?  She waited for laughter, for someone to notice the absence of flowers atop the thorny stems, but neither woman did.  “Yes please, its exquisite,”  said Barbara.  “You’d think after three years of getting the special, I’d not be so moved by its significance, but it’s happening again.  My family will love this one, Thanks!” Sandra stared, “why so normal a conversation about so strange an arrangement,” she wondered.  Um…..” said Sandra pointing, “that lady just left with umm….” “Yes?” said Jenny.  “Well, she had no flowers!”  said Sandra.  “Yep. That’s the Special, I call it the Thanksgiving Thorns Bouquet.”  But, why do people pay for that?” In spite of herself Sandra chuckled.  “Do you really want to know,” asked Jenny.  “I couldn’t leave this shop without knowing” said Sandra.  “Thats good” said Jenny, “well,” she continued, ” Barbara came into the shop three years ago feeling very much like you feel today.  She thought she had very little to be thankful for.  She had lost her father to cancer, the family business was failing, her son was into drugs and she faced major surgery.”  “Ouch,” said Sandra.  “That same year,” Jenny went on, ” I lost my husband, I assumed complete responsibility for the shop and for the first time, spent the holidays alone.  I had no children, no husband, no family nearby, and too great a debt to allow any travel.”  “What did you do,” asked Sandra.  “I learned to be thankful for thorns.”  Said Jenny and Sandra’s eyebrows lifted.  “I’m a Christian Sandra, I”ve always thanked God for good things in life and I never thought to ask him why good things happened to me.  But, when bad stuff hit did I ever ask!  It took time to learn that dark times are important.  I always enjoyed the flowers of life but it took thorns to show me the beauty of God’s comfort.  You know the Bible says that God comforts us when we’re afflicted and from His consolation we learn to comfort others.”  Sandra gasped, “a  friend read that passage to me and I was furious, I guess the truth is , I don’t want comfort. I’ve lost a baby and I”m angry with God.”  She started to ask Jenny to go on when the doors bell diverted their attention.  “I’m here for twelve thorny long stems!” Phil laughed heartily.  “I figured as much,” smiled Jenny, “I’ve got them ready”  She lifted a tissue wrapped arrangement from the refrigerated cabinet.  “Beautiful,” said Phil, “My wife will love them”  Sandra could not resist asking, “these are for your wife? Do you mind me asking why thorns?”  “I’m glad you asked,” he said, “four years ago my wife and I nearly divorced.  After forty years we were in a real mess, but we slogged through, problem by rotten problem, we rescued our marriage and our love, really.  Last year at Thanksgiving I stopped in her for flowers.  I must have mentioned surviving a tough process because Jenny told me that for a long time she kept a vase of rose stems, stems! as a reminder of what she learned from thorny times.  That was good enough for me, I took home stems.  My wife and I decided to label each one for a specific thorny situation and give thanks for what the problem taught us.  I”m pretty sure this stem review is becoming a tradition!”  Phil paid Jenny, thanked her again and as he left said to Sandra, “I highly recommend the Special.”  “I don’t know if I can be thankful for thorns in my life,” Sandra to Jenny.  “Well, my experience says that thorns make roses more precious,” replied Jenny, “we treasure God’s providential care more during trouble than at any other time,  Remember, Sandra, Jesus wore a crown of thorns so that we might know his love.  Do not resent thorns.”  Tears rolled down Sandra’s cheeks.  For the first time since the accident she loosened her grip on resentment, “I’ll take twelve long-stemmed thorns please,” said Sandra.  “I hoped you would,” smiled Jenny, I’ll have them ready in a minute.  Then every time you see them, remember to appreciate both good and hard times.  We grow through both.”  “Thank you, what do I owe you?”  “Nothing, nothing but a pledge to work toward healing your heart.  The first year’s arrangement is always on me.”  Jenny handed a card to Sandra.  “I’ll attach a card like this to your arrangement but maybe you’d like to read it first, go a head, read it.”  The card said: My God, I have never thanked Thee for my thorn. I have thanked Thee a thousand times for my roses but never once for my thorns.  Teach me the glory of the cross I bear, teach me the value of my thorns.  Show me that I have climbed to Thee by the path of pain.  Show me that my tears have made my rainbow.

May our hearts be filled with gratitude today and always,

Love from Dixie