Well, it’s the day after Thanksgiving, and I pray our hearts are full as we head into the Christmas season. (Mine certainly is.) For now, though, I have one more list to share with you – five Bible verses I’m thankful for. I’d love if you’d share yours with me, too. If you don’t read the Bible, or don’t have favorite verses from the Bible, you’re welcome to share your favorite inspirational quotes instead.
Here are mine:
- “But now, this is what the Lord says—he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze'” (Isaiah 43:1-2 NIV, emphasis mine).
- “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his teaching the islands will put their hope” (Isaiah 42:1-4 NIV, emphasis mine).
- “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned…For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this” (Isaiah 9:2, 6-7 NIV).
- “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you” (Isaiah 54:10 NIV). I actually really love ALL of Isaiah 54. It’s too long to post in its entirety, but you should check it out when you have the chance.
- “Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they could settle. They were hungry and thirsty, and their lives ebbed away. Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things” (Psalm 107:4-9 NIV). This is another one of those chapters where the whole thing speaks to me.
What about YOU? What are some Bible verses or inspirational quotes you’re thankful for?
I’m releasing my Thursday post on Wednesday because I’m going to be spending time with my family tomorrow, and making sure everything posts properly to social media is not going to be a priority. But hey, it’s Thursday somewhere, right?
Today, I was scrolling through my blog feed and read a post about how so many of our thoughts center on the things we do have, when we also need to be thankful for the things we don’t have. That got me thinking because there are some things I don’t have, that haven’t happened, for which I am truly grateful.
- Death. And I don’t just mean the spiritual death (separation from God) from which I’ve been saved through Jesus, though I am deeply thankful for that. I am referring to the times when all I wanted was to get out, and the only avenue I could see to get out was death. I’m thankful I wasn’t successful.
- Going to UNT in 2008. I’m grateful for this season where I began to follow Jesus, started learning about loving people, and fell head over heels in love for the first time. I’m also grateful for all of the people I would never have met if I’d gone in 2008 instead of when I went in 2009.
- Marriage. I wouldn’t be an author now if I’d gotten married. I’d still be over at Wilderness Adventure blogging about relationships and all that good stuff. I might never have made time for my fiction writing.
- Career. There was this one time I went out and was interviewed for a job that was perfect for me, and I was perfect for it. Not even kidding. I didn’t get it. I was angry for about three months, then things started changing for me: I started loving the job I was in. That job was my community, my ministry until I left it in August. More than that, I got a vision of who I wanted to be in the workplace – not someone who is ambitious and striving for a career, but someone who works hard and leaves everyone better for having been around me.
- Seattle. When I left Texas, I didn’t move quite as radically northwest as I originally thought I would, but I know I am right where I need to be in Oklahoma City. I’ve already seen my life changed SO much since getting here, and I know the blessing and growth is only just beginning. I can’t wait to see what God does next.
What about YOU? Is there anything you’re thankful hasn’t happened in your life?
Lately, a number of posts have cropped up in my newsfeed that talk about something someone did, accompanied by an exhortation to spread that person’s shame.
It seems we are eager – too eager – to share the shame of others.
Sure, we need to talk about and be active in what’s going on in our world. That’s a given. What we don’t need to do is talk and activate with a goal of shame.
I imagine my own shame being slapped on a meme or a video and going viral.
The “good” Christian girl just flipped someone the bird. Spread her shame.
She’s a glutton. Spread her shame.
She attracts the wrong kind of attention. Spread her shame.
That fills me with dread, as I imagine it would anyone who takes an honest look inward.
Shame wasn’t introduced to the world until after the Fall. You know what that tells me? Shame is from the Enemy. It is not part of God’s intention for His creation. Even after the Fall, shame is not in His plan of redemption.
Should we talk about short tempers on the road? Absolutely. Should we talk about overeating? Absolutely. Should we talk about body image issues? Absolutely.
Justice. Restoring creation to its rightful purpose. That is what God is all about.
So we should round off a conversation about road rage with patience and grace. We should round off a conversation about eating disorders with gratitude and abundance. We should round off a conversation about body image with God’s image.
We should always be asking, “What is God trying to make right here?”
Compared to my other lists, this one may seem shallow, because who in the world is thankful for TV shows of all things? (Me. That’s who.)
Here’s the thing: growing up, I didn’t watch any TV, only movies. When I hit college, I started watching a few shows on Hulu, and then I switched to Netflix a few years ago, where I started watching not a few shows. (After all, I was a Radio, Television, and Film major). I think there’s a lot to be learned about narrative arc from TV shows; at least, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Anyway, I cancelled my Netflix account earlier this month, because I was watching too often and for too long, and there are other things that need to be done.
Still, there are shows that I love, that resonate with in my deep places, and for that I am grateful. Make sure you share yours, too!
- The Office. Whenever I’m feeling a little down, I watch a random episode or two of this show, and it never fails to cheer me up. I love Jim’s pranks on Dwight, the stupid things Michael says, Jim and Pam’s romance, and the progressive breakdown of the fourth wall and how it’s not really a breakdown of the fourth wall at all. (See? My degree in Radio, Television, and Film has some use after all!)
- Gilmore Girls. This is just a feel-good show. There’s a diverse and quirky cast of characters just doing life in a New England setting. It’s a life I wouldn’t mind having, and in a way, I do have it – at least, the diverse and quirky cast of characters doing life part.
- Once Upon a Time. This show managed to bring characters from all of my favorite fairy tales and stories to life while keeping things original. It’s so much fun seeing how the creators work everyone in. I didn’t love the Frozen first half of the fourth season (like, how random and out of place was that?!), but they got me back in with all of the author/book stuff.
- Revenge. I am pretty sure that good Christian girls are not supposed to like this show, but I loved it. I was completely hooked by the premise of a girl taking down the people who destroyed her family. I wasn’t sure where it was going, but the finale was brilliant.
- Jane the Virgin. This one is a new favorite. I just like that with so many shows out there that portray losing virginity as a milestone that needs to be achieved as quickly as possible, this show says it’s not a race. Nothing in life needs to be a race. I love the off-beat humor and the drama, too.
What about YOU? Any TV shows for which you’re thankful?
Continuing on with my Thanksgiving celebration, today is a little more serious. Today, I’d like to list five mentors/teachers for whose influence I am thankful. Again, I invite you to reflect on these people in your own life, even if you don’t share them in a comment.
- My dad. In Sunday school this past week we discussed the question, “Who first taught you about the Bible?” That would be my dad. He headed up my spiritual education through devotions, prayer, Scripture memorization, and dragging my butt to church every time the doors were open. I know theology and doctrine are often considered secondary to loving people, but a good, meaty discussion about God and the Bible is one of my favorite things, and every theological and doctrinal inclination you see in me has its roots in my dad.
- My mom. I was homeschooled through high school, and my mom is the one who taught me reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic, as well as valuable life lessons, like, “You have to suffer to be beautiful.” She rarely gave me answers and solutions; instead, pointed me to resources and tools so I could get the answers and solutions for myself.
- Susan. Susan took me under her wing and counseled me during my final semesters as I began the transition out of college and into “the real world.” Beyond that, she taught me how to listen to understand by asking good questions. Whenever I am heading into what I know will be a complex conversation, I pray about questions to ask that will make the person feel heard.
- Mary Graziano Scro. I met Mary earlier this year through our publisher, Vox Dei. At the time, I was a marketing manager for her first book, Intentional Fitness, but we connected over a topic we are both passionate about: spiritual warfare. Along with that, we began a prayer call for our publisher, and we have really gotten to know each other through those calls. Mary has shared from her experience as I’ve entered a new and exciting time in my life, and I know God sent her especially for this season. I am so grateful for her. Her second book, Intentional Warfare, releases today, and I’m so excited to glean from her there as well.
- The Holy Spirit. Over the past several years, I have had to dig around in and take a good, hard look at the less pleasant aspects of my past. I have had to mourn and figure out what to do with the pieces that are left. I have had to learn how to talk about it, and with whom. I have had to learn when to speak up, when saying less is more, and when not to say anything at all. In all of this, when I take the time to listen, I can hear the Spirit prompting me what to do and say.
What about you? For whose influence are you grateful?
I had a dream last night, the second of its nature.
Last year, I read a book that said when you’re not paying attention and God is trying to tell you something, He’ll get into your dreams and tell you there. Based on my experience, I tend to think that’s true.
I dreamt again that I was singing.
Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday. It’s my family’s big holiday, bigger than Christmas. Always has been. It’s full of people and games and conversation, and of course, food. Usually, we’re celebrating all week.
This year, I only get to be with my family on Thursday since I moved to Oklahoma and my work schedule won’t allow a longer visit. So. I’ve decided to put on a week-long celebration on my blog by sharing a few lists of things I’m thankful for related to reading, writing, and matters of faith. (Not that I think I’ll be wallowing in self-pity or anything – I have more than enough to keep me busy here. I just want to celebrate, you know?)
Today, I’m sharing five books I’m thankful for, and I’m asking you to do the same in the comments. Just one rule: if you want to use the Bible, you have to name a specific book (or books) in the Bible. You can’t just say the Bible.
Without further ado, here are five books I’m thankful for this year:
- Isaiah (from the Bible). Some people come to Jesus because of the gospel of John, but the gospel of Isaiah is what saved my life. It opened my eyes to the existence of an intimate God, and continues to comfort me with His plan to restore the humanity to its original place … in His presence … when I’m feeling a little lost.
- There and Back by George MacDonald. Reading this book reminded me of something I’ve begun to call “the slow fall.” I’m always in such a hurry to get where I’m going (wherever that is – I don’t even really know) that I don’t enjoy the steps it takes to get there. The characters are unhurried – they just … are.
- Candy Pizza by Charlotte Cuevas. It’s a fun little collection of poetry about entering adulthood. Cuevas once said it was poetry for people who don’t like poetry, and that is certainly true. Cuevas is someone who gets the stage of life I’m in, and I love her writing.
- The Elijah Task by John Loren and Paula Sanford. This book really challenged me on how to handle my spiritual gifts in a way that wouldn’t upset all of the cessationists in my life, but would allow me to exercise it in honor of the Giver.
- Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella. (Hey, a girl’s gotta’ have her fluff reads, okay?) I first read this book in between my sophomore and junior years of college, when I had to postpone my education because of my own spending habits. To this day, I still love Rebecca Bloomwood. I’m not crazy about all of the sequels, because they get repetitive after a while, but I love the first one.
What about you? What are five books you’re thankful for?