Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giving thanks for my struggles....

Well, it is almost Thanksgiving, so I'm stopping to count my blessings.  But this year, I'm going to switch it up.  I'm not going to go all gushy over the finer gifts and goodies I've received.  I'm going to share my struggles.

Don't worry, I'm not going all depressing or bitter with this.  Thanks to Paul and James, I'm learning to find great joy and thanksgiving in the ups and downs of life.

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18 

" when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing." James 1: 2b-4 

What I'm thankful for.....
Sunset after Irene
  • Sore muscles - Each time my abs ache or my thighs groan, I thank God I am getting stronger and I've got time and resources to go to the gym and workout. 
  • The April tornadoes that hit Raleigh- I know this sounds rather strange, but I heard so many stories of how God used relief workers to bless those devastated by destruction of property. I only served one day and I was thankful I was strong enough to help.  (see also Sore Muscles) 
  • Hurricane Irene - This past September, I was blessed to gather with friends and family at Kure Beach and ride out the storm together. The memories of good times during the storm and the beautiful sunsets the night after will stay with me for a lifetime. 
  • The Death of our dog, Sweetie - As much as she annoyed me on a daily basis, Sweetie brought excitement to our lives. She guarded the house and announced the arrival of family and guests with her incessant barking. Her poor buddy Reagan, our labrador retriever, is lost without her to tell her what to do. Sweetie lived a good life and loved us in her own controlling and hyperactive way.  It was sad to let her go, but thanks to Dr. Janine Sagris, Sweetie died with peace and dignity while in the arms of those who loved her.  
  • Ministry struggles -  I had so much fun working in Children's ministry at Highland Baptist Church, but the struggles of meeting the needs of a growing number of children and their families was more than my team could handle. Somehow, God saw us through and gave us what we needed each Sunday and Wednesday. It taught us to rely on God, not ourselves and that's the hardest lesson of all. 
  • A Cancelled Consulting Job -  I usually get bummed when a church has to cancel a scheduled training event. It means less money in my pocket and the loss of hours of preparation.  A September cancellation suddenly opened up my schedule and gave me time to prepare some special touches for my parents 60th wedding anniversary.  I'm sure the party would have been just as fun without CD's and custom made placemats, but seeing my parent's reactions of delight was priceless to me... and it was a treat to have time to be crafty and creative.  
  • Deciding to leave my job -  Boy, that was a tough one for me.  I struggled with God, begged, pleaded and even tried to bargain with Him to let me stay... just a while longer.  I am thankful for those who struggled with me on the decision and apologize to those left with so many questions unanswered.  I know it was just as hard on them as it was for Frank and I.  But I know out of this good things will come for me and for the church I left behind. 
  • Waiting on God -  For the past month and probably for several months to come, I'm waiting on God to direct me to the ministry opportunity he has planned for me. I don't like to wait for stop lights, so waiting for God and being patient with His timing is a real challenge for me.  However, I'm using the time to take care of my sweet husband, Frank, and reconnect with dear friends who've taken a back seat to my ministry on more occasions that I care to admit.  
So there you have it, my Thanksgiving list of struggles.  In the end, each one brought me great joy.  As I used to tell the children every Sunday morning...

"Let's Thank God for That!" 

Thank you God for the many struggles of life. You've used each one to teach me to look for and celebrate the blessings within and through all circumstances.  For that I am truly grateful." Amen and amen. 

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