Posts tagged #gratitude

Finding the Silver Lining

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” James 1:2-4

How easy is it for you to find joy or the “silver lining” in every situation?

What exactly is a silver lining? 

Looking up into the sky right before a storm, I can often see dark clouds passing overhead. As they get into position and do their job of creating rain, they also block the sun. When I look closely at the edges of those ominous clouds, I can see the sun shining around the edges, like a silver lining.

Difficult times come to each of us.  As someone once said, “It is not a matter of ‘if’, but ‘when’ they will come”.  When the dismal clouds cover over your life, what do you do?

I continue to learn when trials come there is ALWAYS a silver lining.

Every time. 

I can find something to be grateful for.  During this difficult time of finding cancer again, I find it is easier to be less stressed than the first time.  We have done this before and we will do it again.  I find I am less hesitant to let people help me and I am more able to take the rest God is providing in the midst.

Here are a few things that keep me grounded and focusing on the “silver lining” during my times of trial:

  1. I journal gratefulness.  Each day, I make myself find 10 things to be grateful for.  They have to be “new every morning”, and I don’t allow myself to pull points from yesterday.  This God-inspired ritual helps me see the goodness in the midst of the pain.  I have had surgery and am recouping, but the silver lining is more time to spend with friends who visit and to rest with no agenda.  I have to eat a very simple fare - which is a challenge at times - but the silver lining is in eating the food God made for us, I am the weight I should be.  There is always something to be thankful for.
  2. I remember God’s miraculous power.  I was a miracle not once, but twice now.  As I study God’s word and live out the plan He has chosen for me, I find joy in seeing his miraculous power.  He is able to do anything.  I am grateful for the many answered prayers, but even in the unanswered prayers I am confident that He is God, no matter what.  The silver lining is being able remember who God is – His power, His goodness and His love.
  3. I get out in God’s beauty.  Nothing grounds me more than being in nature.  I feel connected to God’s majesty and to the ages past.  Nothing seems as big of a deal when I am sitting on the beach listening to the waves or hiking in the mountains near a waterfall.  Suddenly, my worries slip away, and I am able to focus on who God is and who I am not.  This is the silver lining found in trials.  A truth I often forget is: God never intended for me to take all my burdens on my shoulders.  He has it all under control.
  4. I seek out peace and tranquility.  For me, this is Sabbath rest.  To find a shalom in every day allows me to rest in who God is.  The silver lining of trials is that I seek this.  I crave it!  For me, it looks like a quiet house in the morning before I wake up, scrapbooking my family memories or a stolen coffee shop hour to study or write.  Peaceful times to hear what God is saying and hear my own heart’s worries in the light of His goodness.
  5. I embrace God’s community.  During difficult times, friends abound and rush to your side.  Nothing brings out the best in people like the “C” word.  In the past, I may have acted like I can do all things myself.  Now I allow myself to take the break when people give it.  To really love and embrace those who are wanting to pray for me.  I have a tendency to feel embarrassed that I always need to be prayed for.  It does get old.  But the silver lining in a trial is the blessing of Jesus’s hands and feet here on earth to help in these times.

These are my silver linings in the midst of cancer battle.  I just have to say this is a battle that the Lord is winning, too.  In my heart and mind, I am being transformed into more of who He wants me to be.  My body is healthy and fit.  I have no idea what the future holds, but, my friends, neither do you.  So take those times of difficulty today – a crying child, a health issue or a financial difficulty, and focus on the “silver lining”.  The evil one doesn’t like it when we do this.

What are ways you focus on the “good” in the midst of the “bad”?

Do You Ever Want to Escape?

I look forward to going on vacation.  Do you ever want to escape?

A vacation is an escape from the day-to-day routine where we get to explore, adventure and be alive.  Sometimes I just want to escape this reality I am living in.  In general, I love my life, but don’t you just wish you were somewhere else sometimes?

My family and I recently took a two week vacation to Hawaii thanks, in large part, to my mom.  My husband and I began to await the blessed time from the moment we booked the tickets. We entertained the idea of being together and showing the kids new places.  Every day I began to prepare for our up and coming adventure.

As we boarded the plane, all of us were overwhelmed with excitement.  A trip to Hawaii had been a dream for our kids for as long as we could remember.  When we arrived in the land filled with palm trees, warm and tropical breezes, we settled into a wonderful time.  But two weeks is a long time.

Days passed by. The excitement began to wear off and we began living life in Hawaii.  We were homeschooling, making dinner, doing laundry and dishes, and picking up the home we were living in.  Funny, these are all the same things that I do at home. 

And then my kids began to have attitude, being ungrateful and disobedient.  They argued about doing schoolwork and pestered their siblings.  Sadly, similar to the behaviors we work on at home.  My husband and I, who had been all giddy at first, sank into our regular routine and began to treat each other with familiarity.  I began to see the ugly faces of selfishness and disregard that I fight at home.

I pondered these things one morning.

I realized escaping from reality . . . from marriage . . . from children . . . from life, while blissful at first, will end up right where we were before.  The grass will look greener, but in real life we bring with us all the junk we had at home.  In Hawaii, we had just changed locations.  Sure, we went sightseeing, to the beach, surfing, and made all kinds of wonderful memories.  But the truth is that any ugliness in our hearts travels with us regardless of our location.

I might sit at home any day and just wish to be on vacation.  It is a longing for escape from what I don’t want to face; kind of like TV and movies for me.  But I will still love vacations.  God said to me one morning on the beach that I am a work in progress wherever I am.  My kids and my husband, they too, are His masterpiece that He is creating over time.  All six of us in our family are sinners.  So while I may long for a change of venue to somewhere tropical, I know that a vacation will not change our hearts and our souls and the escape will not have the effect I am hoping for.  Why do I think my kids will be better behaved driving two hours to Volcano National Park than they are here in Southern California?

I came home with a different appreciation for here and now.  Because I should never wish to be somewhere different than where God has me.  The grass is not greener, because it is a mirage.  When I get there, the grass will be the same color as mine.  The escape has all the hype without the follow through.

So for now, no matter if we are in Southern California, Hawaii, Australia, Germany . . . wherever the Lord leads us, I will remember, this is right where God has us.  All our “stuff “has made it to baggage claim with our luggage and we are to deal with it right where we are.  No fancy escape plan, just good old-fashion learning and growing, failing and forgiving, right where God has us.

1 Cor. 7:17 “And don't be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God's place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there!”