Cherishing What Matters

Photo by Stuart Miles taken from freedigitalphotos.net

Photo by Stuart Miles taken from freedigitalphotos.net

Sometimes I approach Thanksgiving with a bit of a hum-bug spirit, thinking of all the to-dos and obligations. Other times, like this year, I toss those to-dos and self-imposed expectations aside to simply be. To enjoy time with family, the colors of fall, the smell of roasting turkey.

This year feels especially significant as it’s our daughter’s first Thanksgiving home, post college. Oh, how we’ve missed her, which might seem strange, considering she’s only 45 minutes away, and comes home quite often. But if you’re a parent, you understand. Our hearts hold tight to those precious gifts God once placed firmly in our hands. Today my sweet friend and fellow ACFW writer Ginger Solomon tells us about a special Thanksgiving blessing she received one year. As you read her post, think of your family and the love that holds it together. Or, if family is tough, think of the close relationships God has developed in your life. And hold tight to them. Invest in them. And thank God for them

A Special Thanksgiving Blessing by Ginger Solomon 

On this day twenty-two years ago–well, technically yesterday, but it was Thanksgiving Day that year—I delivered a turkey of my own at 2:19 in the morning. My turkey weighed 9 lbs and measured twenty-two

Photo by kangshutters taken from freedigitalphotos.net

Photo by kangshutters taken from freedigitalphotos.net

inches long. He’s a big boy now, or rather a man, growing to a pretty tall 6’5”.

Every year, I give thanks for that child and the six others God has blessed me with.

Psalm 127:4-5 says, “Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands. How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them! He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers at the city gates.” (NLT) Well, I’m not a young man, but I still feel blessed.

Many people thought I was crazy after I announced pregnancies four through seven. I mean really, didn’t I know what caused that? Yes, people did have the audacity to ask those types questions. Most times I just smiled and ignored them.

Sometimes when I took them all to the store with me, which I did have to do for a while—my oldest was thirteen when the baby was born—I’d get odd looks, or a my-you-have-your-hands-full.

But even though I had some tough days—as most moms do—I wouldn’t trade any one of them for the world. They are unique individuals and will bless society with their gifts and abilities.

IMG_0496My first child (24) will graduate from nursing school with an RN next month. Child two (22)—mentioned above—graduates in May with a BS in Engineering(Computer). Child number three (18) just started college, aiming for a BS in Engineering(Mechanical). Child number four (girl #1; 17) will graduate high school in May. She wants to be a children’s pastor. Children five through seven (15, 13, & 11) don’t quite know what they want to do yet, but whatever it is, I’m ready to be amazed by God.

So this Thanksgiving as you wipe dirty hands and faces, worry about spilled something, struggle with getting a child to bed because he or she ate too much dessert, be thankful. That child will grow up and teach you much about trusting God.

And if you don’t have a child of your own, or yours are grown, help a mom out when she looks a little frazzled. Carry her groceries. Wipe a face. Hold a hand. Clean up a spill. If you’re a stranger, offer to push her cart while she carries the baby or consoles the toddler. Pay for her groceries, her lunch, or just a can of soda.

Even if all you can offer is a smile, she will be grateful that you’re not frowning at her because her child is having a bad day.

I pray blessings on your family from our family. Happy Thanksgiving.

Ginger Solomon is a Christian, a wife, a mother to seven, and a writer — in that order (mostly). When Solomon author imagenot homeschooling her youngest four, doing laundry or fixing dinner, she writes or reads romance of any genre, some sci-fi/fantasy, and some suspense. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, president of her local writing group, and writes regularly for two blogs. In addition to all that, she loves animals, likes to do needlework (knitting, crocheting, and sometimes cross-stitch), and is a fan of Once Upon a Time and Dr. Who.

Visit her online at her Website, her group blog Inspy Romance, her Facebook Author Page, on Twitter @GingerS219 and Pinterest

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this. What’s your Thanksgiving and Christmas look like? Will you have family close? For those who have strained family relationships or are mourning the loss of loved ones, I’m sorry. That’s tough. I hope you have a strong support group around you to help you enjoy this time. I hope you’ll find a way to make Thanksgiving special, however that looks for you. For those who will get to spend time with their loves ones, don’t let the to-dos take away from the must-dos of showing love, spending time, sharing laughter… eating massive quantities of pumpkin pie. With a decaf, almond milk latte, of course!

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Mercies in Disguise

Life is full of hardships; hardships that leave unanswered questions, perhaps the greatest of which are “Why?” and “How long?” I know many of you are dealing with extremely difficult situations: financial, health, loss of loved ones. Situations that can easily rock one’s world and faith.

Driving to church last Sunday, with me coming out of an extended and painful “flare”, my husband said, “You need to trust.”

Being in no mood to hear anything, I scowled, arms crossed. “Trust what?”

“Trust God. That He will protect you.”

Wrong answer.

Though my husband, in his amazingly patient and loving way, was trying to encourage me, I knew if my trust rested on God’s “protection”, there was a good chance it’d be broken. My trust needed to rest in His nature, sovereignty, and wisdom, and in my full and unconditional surrender. For that is where the peace and blessings come from.

Ginger picToday a dear friend who’s had her share of difficulties talks about one of the most poignant songs in contemporary Christian music. After you read Ginger Solomon’s devotion, I encourage you to listen to the song embedded below, and as you do, surrender and trust that God is good and loving and faithful.

Mercies in Disguise

The other day I heard the song “Blessings” by Laura Story. It’s been around for a while, but for some reason this time something about the lyrics struck me. It’s like reading that same Scripture over and over and then one day it comes to life in your heart.

I can relate to these words in so many ways. I know that blessings can come through raindrops – the first date I had yellow-leaf-1087751-mwith my husband it was raining. I know that healing can come through tears – I have cried to the Lord and felt a physical hug from Him that healed the broken places in my heart. I have doubted His goodness and His love, and I have spent countless nights awake and wondering what the next day would bring. And yet, through it all He has loved me WAY too much to let me stay in a place of comfort too long.

Through the greatest disappointments in my life I know God has been beside me. I may not have felt like it at the time, but feelings are fickle creatures and should not be trusted. It reminds me of the Footprints in the Sand picture. Sometimes when we least feel God it’s because He’s carrying us rather than walking beside us.

James 1:2-3 (NKJV) says, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” This verse doesn’t say IF, but WHEN. We’ve all had trials, and we’re likely to have a few more before our time here on earth is complete.

In One Choice, my heroine, Cahri, is angry at God because her parents were killed in the country where they were missionaries. She felt God had abandoned her. Then she was summoned to participate in the Bridal March. She once again felt as if He had forsaken her. We all know God is always with us and will never forsake us (Heb. 13:5), but how often do we forget it when we’re in the dark places? Cahri feels God’s presence at various times throughout the book, and finally remembers how much He loves her later in the book – three long years after the death of her parents.

Will we allow God to turn our raindrops into blessings and our tears into healing?rememberings-675103-m

Will the sleepless nights send us to our knees crying out to God?

How long will it take us to remember that God always wants the very best things for us?

***

Pause to listen to Laura Story’s song titled Blessings:

Ginger Solomon is a Christian, a wife, a mother to seven, and a writer — in that order (mostly). When not homeschooling her youngest five, doing laundry or fixing dinner, she writes or reads romance of any genre, some sci-fi/fantasy, and some suspense. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, president of her local writing group, and writes regularly for three blogs. In addition to all that, she loves animals, horses especially, likes to do needlework (knitting, crocheting, and sometimes cross-stitch), and loves to sing in the choir at church. Visit her online at A Bed of Roses…Thorns IncludedWriting Prompts & Thoughts & Ideas…Oh My!Inspy Romance BlogFacebook, Twitter @GingerS219, and Pinterest

OneChoice 453x680One Choice:

Cahri Michaels is American by birth, but Belikarian by choice. Being selected to participate in the Bridal March forces her to give up the independent life she’s created for herself. She’s not ready to be anyone’s wife, much less to a man she doesn’t know.

Prince Josiah Vallis despises the centuries old tradition—the Bridal March—that is forcing him to choose a wife from fifty women. Why does it matter that he’s twenty-five and still single?

When Cahri and Josiah meet, sparks fly. Will it ignite a godly love that can see them through or will they be burned, never to be the same? Buy it on Amazon, at Barnes and NobleAstraea Press and Smashwords

 

 

LivingbyGracepicLet’s talk about this. How have struggles deepened your faith and relationship with Christ? How has God walked you through moments of pain or fear? How has He revealed Himself through it or offered blessings that came through raindrops?

Looking back over my life, I’ve found my darkest moments have also led to my greatest growth. Living with chronic illness, most specifically, autoimmune issues, is a perfect example. There’s an inherent uncertainty that comes with health struggles, an that uncertainty, for me, keeps me centered in the cross and focused on eternity. On my good days, it spurs me to action, motivating me to make the most of every ounce of energy and health, because it could be gone tomorrow. On my bad days, it draws me to Christ’s feet where I experience comfort and love. Ultimately, it’s deepened my relationship with God in a way I know wouldn’t have occurred otherwise.

Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.