Thursday, October 16, 2014

big dog, afraid of water.

Tollymore Forrest is arguably one of my favorite places I’ve ever been.  It holds some of my fondest memories, and is also the place where the Lord taught me some of the most impactful lessons I’ve learned. It’s hard to put into words the beauty of the creation that God has given us to enjoy in that place.  I’ve been there a few times now, and had two very different experiences.  I had the blessing of spending the past two Februaries abroad in Northern Ireland.  The first time I went as a student at Kanakuk Link Year, with 31 of my dearest friends and had the time of my life gallivanting throughout the beautiful Irish countryside making memories and laughing a lot, enjoying every moment; but this past year, I returned to the country with Link Year, but without my beloved friends.  It was hands down one of the hardest months I’ve ever endured…but in the very best way.

The months leading up to my return to Ireland this past year were anything but easy.  The lord was trying hard to get my attention, but I wasn’t letting him have it.  So, being an almighty, sovereign, and jealous God, He did what he had to do in order to really get my eyes on him.  He took me halfway across the world, to a foreign country…without any friends…without any comfort…without any distractions; and he met me there. 

Throughout the four weeks I spent in Ireland, The Lord spoke to me many different times, in many different ways, through many different people.  The month I spent across the pond was one time in my life that I feel like I will always remember as being vitally important in my walk with the lord. 

I returned to Tolleymore the last week of my month in Ireland this past year.    Walking into the forest, I was filled with an unexpected sense of nostalgia.  All I wanted to do was sit, and be still, and reflect over the trip. Two hundred yards into the forest, the Shimna River roars, making its presence known to anyone near by.  I had never moved beyond the river, but this time, the sound of the river was too much for me to handle.  I walked over a bridge, and moved deeper into the forest, when I stumbled onto one of the most peaceful and still areas I have ever seen.  A still, clear pond, surrounded by trees on three sides, and the greenest grass I have ever seen on the other.  As if it was placed there just for me, there was one small three-sided shack, with one bench overlooking the pond.  So there I sat, secluded and silent, for what seemed like hours.  After a while, an old Irish man with two big black labs came and joined me by the pond.  I could tell that he too thought he was alone as he walked and talked to his dogs, throwing them sticks to retrieve.  I don’t think he ever would have guessed that he would teach me something that would change my life forever.  But that day, in that forest, by that pond, God spoke to me through that man.   I wrote this as I sat on my bench:

“Big dog, afraid of water” the Irish man laughed realizing I, the only other human near by, was watching him repeatedly throwing a stick to his black lab.  I’m fascinated by dogs.  I love them more than most humans.  They have the ability to love beyond that of any person I have ever met.  They love to have fun and be adventurous and break all the rules, but at the end of the day, no matter what he’s done, you can’t help but love your dog.  The way he curls up next to you on the couch, or insists on warming your pillow…dogs want one thing from you, and they give one thing in return; love.  With this dog in particular, a fun game went awry when his owner threw his beloved stick out just the slightest bit too far into the water.  Up until this point, the dog had been able to overcome his fears enough to reach the floating stick in the murky water, but this time was different.  This time, the stick had travelled out just far enough for the dog to become skittish and frightful of the previously adored water.  He walked into the water, and stopped.  He really wanted the stick, but he wasn’t really willing to venture out that far to retrieve it.  He turned his head back to lock eyes with his owner, the thrower of the stick, “Ah go on boy.  Go get it.” The owner commanded, knowing that the dog’s only goal was to retrieve the stick that he had thrown.   I chuckled to myself.  “Big dog, afraid of water” he looked at me and laughed.  The dog hopped once more and then came running out of the water with the stick in his mouth, and ran to his owner. 
Sometimes, I think that we can be just like that dog.  God is always throwing us sticks- giving us opportunities to grow and glorify him; but do we always want to do what he’s asking us to do?  How far are we willing to go to retrieve the stick?  Sometimes further than others…but what we need to realize is that he is always standing just behind us, waiting for us to look back and hear his encouragement.  “Go on, Get it.  I know how much you want it.”
Even though the water scares us; even though it requires an entirely new level of trust and reliance on God; even though it forces us to step out into the unknown, we have to ask ourselves, “How badly do I want the stick?” Because it’s easy to pretend to be a big brave dog when three feet is as far as you have to go…but even when we’re scared, God is right behind us saying, “Go on.  Get it.  I promise you’ll be okay.” 
This is a lesson that The Lord taught me nearly a year ago, but is continuing to use to refine me still today. 

Over the past few weeks, my mentor (her name is Kristina and she’s super rad) and I have been going through an inductive study of the book of Ruth.  Honestly, I read through the book a couple times (it’s fairly short), and I thought that I understood exactly what it was saying.  Welp, surprise surprise, we got about 8 verses in before I realized I was wrong. 

If you aren’t familiar with this story, it starts out with a completely average family of Jews living in Bethlehem, God’s chosen land for them.   Well, probably as a result of God’s wrath over the Israelites, Bethlehem is struck with famine, and they flee to Moab, the land of their enemies.  Not long after Naomi, Elimilech, and their two sons move to Moab, Elimilech falls ill and dies, leaving his wife Naomi a widow.  Their two sons take Moabite women to be their wives, and they too die after about 10 years, leaving Naomi, Ruth, and Orpah as three widows without a male provider or protector.  Naomi decides to move back to Bethlehem, and has this encounter with her daughters-in-law as they begin their journey. 

“Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the Lord show you kindness, as you have shown kindness to your dead husbands and to me.  May the Lord grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband.”

Then she kissed them goodbye and they wept aloud and said to her, “We will go back with you to your people.”

But Naomi said, “Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands?   Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me—even if I had a husband tonight and then gave birth to sons— would you wait until they grew up? Would you remain unmarried for them? No, my daughters. It is more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord’s hand has turned against me!”

At this they wept aloud again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her.

“Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.”

But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.”  When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.”
-       Ruth 1:8-18

There’s a lot of significance to this exchange.  The girls set out on a journey with Naomi, and don’t make it far before she points out the imminent struggle that lies before them. 

Turn back

Naomi commanded the girls to turn back, and return to the homes of their mothers.  After this first command, the girls respond with weeping, and a refusal to leave Naomi’s side. 

Turn back, I have nothing to offer you. 

Again, she tells them to forsake her and leave to return to their homeland… but this time she gives them a better reason. 

Even if I were to get pregnant tonight, would you wait for my baby to grow up so you can marry him?

Orpah recognizes the weight of the situation.  Returning to Bethlehem with Naomi means leaving her life of comfort, of provisions, of protection, to live in a place where she would not only be culturally unaccepted, but she would also be choosing a life of work- a life of pain and toil.  Orpah recognized the challenge, and wasn’t ready to accept it.  She said “thanks, but no thanks” and hit the road towards home.  But Ruth… Ruth hears Naomi say, “my God has turned against me,” and Ruth says, “That’s the God I want.” 

Ruth understands that following Naomi back to Bethlehem is a risk; but it’s a risk she’s willing to take.  She sees not the struggle, but the reward.  The uncertainty of what lies ahead carries no weight compared to the prize of walking in obedience to the one true God, the God of Israel. 

Like the dog, Orpah saw the risk and turned her head.  She wasn’t willing to venture out into the water.  But Ruth heard the voice of her master calling her by name out into the abyss, only to show her his goodness and greatness over her life.  Ruth received the prize of life because she was willing to step out into the unknown in order to fetch the stick, and abide by the good and perfect plan that the Lord had laid before her. 

Because of her faithfulness, and trust in the Lord, Ruth went on to become a member of the lineage of Christ.  She was rewarded for her faithfulness, and recognized for her loyalty.  The Lord blessed Ruth’s obedience.  Contrary to Christ’s call to his disciples, Naomi says, “Go home” and Ruth chooses to follow; but in both instances the question is the same.  It’s not a matter of how willing you are to be obedient; it’s about how obedient you’re willing to be.  It’s not about how many times you run to fetch the stick; it’s about how far you’re willing to go to retrieve it. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

bloody knees.

 I have this idea that maybe, just maybe, everything that ever happens is intended to inspire within us worship of our almighty, all powerful, all sustaining creator; and maybe, just maybe he has a better grasp of everything going on around us than we could ever imagine. 

If you read the post I wrote at the beginning of the summer, you know what I’m saying when I talk about utter chaos ensuing in my life over the past year, and the ways that I have been able to see the Lord’s hand at work in those situations.  Well, this summer, he didn’t let up.  More trials, more lessons, and more questions.

After hearing about some substantially surprising and upsetting news on one of my 2-4s, (the 24 hours we get off from camp a week) I asked my dear friend Jen Ford to share a meal with me so that I could process through some things with her.  She’s a phenomenal question-asker, and one of the most proactive initiators I’ve ever met.  She recognizes needs, and moves to take action.  As I sat with her, I sobbed about how unfair it all seemed… that I would be facing yet another trial.  “Its just one thing after another,” I cried, “how much am I going to have to give?”  She looked me square in the eye, and with her sage wisdom, knowing exactly what I needed to hear, she replied with a smile, and said, “everything.” 

That was definitely not something I wanted to hear in that moment, but those words will never escape me.  Everything. 

What does it look like to live with everything surrendered to the Lord?   I think this is the very lesson I have been learning this year. 

When I think about someone who lost everything, my thoughts fall on Job.  Job was a blameless and righteous man, and he experienced many worldly blessings because of it.  Yet, when he lost everything, he continued to bless the name of the Lord. 

Now, I haven’t lost anywhere near as much as Job- he literally lost everything in his life in a matter of minutes.  All of his wealth, all of his family, and his good health.  Gone.  And yet, he blessed the name of the Lord. 

It’s incredible how little I recognize God’s hand in my life when I face trials.  Honestly, my thoughts turn more often than not to, “God, why?” “Where are you?” “Don’t you care for me?”

But it’s important that we look at the context of these so-called ‘trials’ in our lives. 

Scripture says in James 1:2-4, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”  James later goes on in verses 12-15 to say, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.  Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.  But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.  Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” 

1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 

It’s important that we recognize the difference between temptation and trials.  By definition, a temptation is a desire for something wrong or unwise.  God will never give us a desire for something that contradicts his word or his will.  Temptation is not of God, but of our sinful nature that desires sin over righteousness.  And when we are tempted, we need to understand that we are not alone, because no temptation is new to mankind.  YOU ARE NOT ALONE.  Soapbox moment:  There is power in vulnerability.  Share with trusted brothers and sisters in the faith what it is you are being tempted by, because chances are they have been tempted by the same thing at one point or another, and they may be able to see what the promised “way of escape” might be better than you can.  Don’t hide your sin in darkness.  Trials on the other hand are defined as a test of the performance, qualities, or suitability of someone or something.  So, when it says in James, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him,” we see that God does allow us to face trials in order to test our faith… why? To show steadfastness... to show the qualities of our character... to show off the way that the Lord transforms the lives of those who love him.  He allows us to face trials for one reason- to glorify his name, just as Job does when he looses everything. 

I think one of the most fascinating parts of the book of Job comes in chapter 1 verse 7.
“The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?”

Did you catch that?  God suggests to Satan that he consider Job. He’s putting his trophy on display- showing off exactly how much Job loves Him.  God confidently chooses to allow Satan to test Job, knowing that in the end, He will be glorified.  God chose to win an open victory though his servant Job. 

And when calamity strikes, how does Job respond?  He falls to his knees, and he Worships His maker. 

When we face trials and calamities in our lives, how do we choose to respond?  I don’t know about you, but my first response usually isn’t to worship God.  

But from the moment He created us, God has been seeking one thing- true worshipers; and true worship is shown in the times when it is hardest to express.  So rather than questioning him, and wondering why on earth God would allow us to go through these times, let us express the true steadfastness the Lord desires from us, that our faith may have its full effect, that we may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. 

All this to say, when calamity strikes, and all of a sudden we find ourselves wallowing in our own self pity- wondering where God is, rather than dwelling in our doom, we should rejoice in the goodness of our God.  Our knees should hit the ground so fast and so hard we should all be walking around with bloody knees. 

Let’s allow God to claim victory over Satan by the ways that we react when he attacks.

 “So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  -2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


          For the past 12 days, I’ve been at kamp for staff training week.  This time is all about us getting K-2 up and running before the kampers come through our gates in just two days.  Now kamp, being uninhabited for the past 9 months, required a good bit of TLC before it could be presented as “the happiest place on earth.”  (To be honest, if looked more like district 13 when we started…)  My point is, we had a lot of work to do.  We worked hard all day raking leaves, cleaning out cabins, and turning kamp back into a livable environment.  But for the past few days, we’ve done nothing but sit and wait for the rain to cease. 
            Now, kamp has always held a special place in my heart.  The lord has been using Kanakuk as my place to truly meet with him since I was 9-years-old…and here I am, 12 summers later, still learning new things about him constantly.  This week, its been through reflection. 
            The past year was a hard one to say the least.  In fact, I don’t think I’m wrong in saying that it was the hardest year of my life so far.  The past 12 months have been full of heartbreak, disappointment, and missed expectations.  But upon looking back at what the past year has taught me, that’s not what I see.  Instead, I see restoration, humility, and blessings in disguise.  What often times felt unbearable, now seems indispensable.  Those things that caused anger, bitterness, doubt, and tears are now things I can rejoice in, because I can now see the fruit they’ve brought forth. 
            Now bear with me… This could get a little cheesy- but through he rain the past few days, the lord has revealed a lot to me about himself.  The past few mornings when I’ve woken up, I’ve gone outside to spend some time in solitude on our porch that overlooks Table Rock Lake.  Nestled up amongst the trees, I am amazed by the beauty of God’s creation, and the way that He sustains it so perfectly.  If you think about it- no one is out there nurturing each individual shrub in the forest, and yet these rolling hills are covered completely by the leaves of thousands of tall, strong, and healthy trees. 
The other day I was driving a boat, and I stopped in the middle of the lake.  As far as I could see, in every direction, trees encompassed the lake, reflecting their beauty on to the water as it glistened in the sun.  Trees- they provide such majestic beauty as they deliver the radiance of the sun and guide our eyes to the sky- to the heavens; where we see God’s true beauty. 

“The heavens declare the Glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”
-Psalm 19:1

            I am astounded by the beauty of the creation that God simply spoke into motion- by nothing we do, we are blessed by his immaculately beautiful creation.  We’ve spent nearly two weeks trying to turn kamp into something even just worth living in, and nothing we have done or could ever do is anywhere even close to the things that God simply spoke into being.  It is by his power, and for his glory that each tree in this forest stands.  The lord doesn’t need us to make his forest beautiful, that we might claim the glory, but he provides everything it needs to grow… Not just sunshine, but rain. 
            Romans 1:20 says, “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and his divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world in the things that have been made.”  Likewise, in Genesis 1:27, scripture says that “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”  Just as God reveals himself to us through the beauty of nature, he has created us to bear his image.  And like the trees, God provides everything he needs for us to represent his beauty.  He doesn’t need us to make ourselves more beautiful, but to trust him in both the sunshine and the rain. 
            Realizing the importance of the rain, its no longer a burden to sit and wait for the rain to pass.  Now that I recognize it’s value, I have an entirely new appreciation for the rain… And it should be no different in my life.
            The storms I’ve endured this year were by no means easy storms to face.  In fact, more often than not, I wanted to give up; to throw in the towel, and move on to something I knew would be easier.  But my God knew what I needed.  He knew what it would take to make me grow up healthier and stronger that I was before.  He knew what was necessary for me to truly bear the image of his name, and be a small testament of his beauty.  He knew what it was going to take… and this time, it wasn’t sunshine. 

 “So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  
  -2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Thursday, November 28, 2013

not always is it wonderful.

it’s the most wonderful time of the year. 
families are gathering together.
christmas lights are strung up on houses.
wish lists are being written with hopes to find each item under the tree on christmas morning.
it’s impossible to quit eating with food at every turn. 
sales in every store.
christmas carols, sugar cookies, and snowmen.
you can come in from the cold and cozy up next to the fire with a blanket and a mug full of hot chocolate and marshmallows. 
ugg boots, leggings, oversized sweaters…
whatever it may be that makes the holidays special for you. 

it’s a joyous season for a lot of us. 

a lot of us… here, in the united states.  a lot of us… looking at this blog on our laptops or iphones or ipads or iwhatevers.  for a lot of us, here in our privileged little towns, this is the most wonderful time of the year.  but for a lot of people, it is the worst. 

but how often do you stop to appreciate those things.  the small things.  the ability to bake cookies.  the cup of hot chocolate you can make after coming in from the blizzarding cold. the winter clothes that you have to keep you warm.  the house that you get to come home to…

unfortunately a holiday that started out as the greatest gift ever given, has turned from celebrating what has been given to us, to what can we get.  greed has over come us.  we donate one day of our year to focus on being thankful, and the next day we trample people to death trying to get more.  we are a people consumed with getting more.  having the best.  having the most.  having it all.  and in doing so, we fail to see the true meaning of the season.

think about it. 

i was born into a family where i have never once had to worry about where i would sleep…what i would wear…where my next meal would come from.  and my guess would be that a lot of you haven’t either. 

but we don’t see it. 

the past week i spent in kansas city with link year.  for those of you who didn’t see my last post, i asked for prayer.  prayer that we would be safe; prayer that we would be impactful; and prayer that hearts of our students would be broken.

we were in the middle of one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the country.  we had the ability to go and shine light in the darkness, and boy did we put up a fight.  it wasn’t only the students that were impacted.  my life was forever changed. 

our first day we spent in inner city kansas city working with a ministry called the hope center.  it’s literally in the middle of a poverty stricken, crime flooded neighborhood.  the hope center provides education, and discipleship to every child they come in to contact with.  they provide the students with something that they might not see anywhere else around them…hope.

that day we did a demonstration with our students to show them exactly how privileged they are.  all week they were divided into groups of four or five called their ‘family groups’.  for the sake of the demonstration, we had each group draw a number.  they drew either 1,2, or 3.  what they didn’t know was that out of the 10 groups, five of them drew 1, four of them drew 2, and only one group drew 3. 

as the students grew impatient waiting for lunch, we set up the meal next door.  we had the 2s come over first.  they were seated on couches and plastic chairs where they found a plate with a pb&j, chips and an apple waiting for them.  next, we had the 1s come over.  they were seated on the ground where they found two large bowls of beans and rice with three or four spoons in each bowl. 

the mood of the room started to change.  they could see what was going on.  some were angry; some were confused, and most were just in awe.  

“would everyone stand to your feet?  we have some very important guests joining us for lunch today.  every one join me in welcoming group number 3!” as the third group walked in, the rest of the room gave them a standing ovation as they were escorted to the center of the room, seated at a table with comfortable chairs.  still confused, everyone sat down and waited to see what they would be given. 

the doors opened again, and as the staff graciously served group 3 a bountiful meal of chickfila nuggets and chicken sandwiches, accompanied by waffle fries, dipping sauces, and sweet tea, you could see the impact our little ‘demonstration’ was having on the group. 

only one rule was given. there would be no sharing of food between ‘classes.’ 

two girls in the ‘middle-class’ group couldn’t even bring themselves to eat their sandwiches seeing the group on the ground eating rice and beans. 

the girls in group three sat at the table weeping, eating their chicken simply out of guilt, being waited on hand and foot, and knowing that what they didn’t eat would go to waste. 

after everyone had finished eating, we discussed what happened.  one of the girls in the chickfila group explained it best… “i did nothing to deserve that food.  i didn’t win a contest, i didn’t pay for it, i didn’t even request it… it was just given to me.  we drew a number, and that’s it.   we didn’t even know what the number meant.  it just makes me realize that i did nothing to deserve the family i was given.  i did nothing to deserve parents who can support me.  i did nothing to deserve a house, or food, or warm clothes.  it was just given to me, all because of the family i was born in to.” 

one of the girls from the middle group told us why she couldn’t eat.  “it’s just unreal to see how much poverty there really is in the world.  i sit at that table every day and eat until my stomach is full, and then i eat some more.  it’s just so hard to physically see what so many people face on a daily basis, and not be able to do anything about it.  i just feel so selfish.”

i did nothing to deserve to grow up urbandale, iowa, the definition of suburbia, with parents who have always worked hard so that i wouldn’t have to.  i did nothing to deserve the life i’ve been given.  i did nothing to deserve the food i eat every day.  i did nothing to deserve the roof i have always had over my head.  i did nothing to deserve the clothes i wear, or the ability to go shopping with my mom every time i come home.  i don’t deserve it. 

later on that week, after helping pack meals for the homeless, and serving in a soup kitchen, we had our students stand out on the street holding signs with statistics about homelessness.  they were given no time to change their clothes, or grab hats and gloves or even a sweatshirt.  they went as they were, and stood outside for an hour and a half holding signs. 

they came back and reflected on their experience.

“hardly anyone even paid attention to us.” 
“i’m so cold, i can’t feel my fingers.” 
“only one lady waved at me.  it was really nice to see someone cared.” 

what if that was what you had to do all day every day just to feed your family at night.  what if you had no hat, no coat, no food, and no house to come home to.  what if you were out there, on the street, for 5, 6 hours at a time. 

for a lot of the students, and even myself, that was when it clicked.  they finally realized what they had been missing all along. 

for some people, this isn’t just a week…this isn’t just a ‘learning experience’…this isn’t the staff coming up with different ways to make us feel guilty…this is real life. 

this is reality. 

our lives are so privileged, we don’t realize that there are people less fortunate than us everywhere.  mission work doesn’t require a plane.  it doesn’t require an organized trip, and it doesn’t require a group of people.  everywhere we go there are people in need.  in your hometown, there are people in need.  in your church, your school, your office, there are people in need.  when you ask god to help you see, you won’t have to look very far. 

i guess what i’m trying to say is be thankful.  truly, truly thankful.   as you feast this season, be thankful that you have food.  as you bust out your winter jackets and fuzzy boots, be thankful that you have clothes to keep you warm as you walk from your front door to your car, and your car into whatever building you’re entering.  be thankful that you aren’t standing on a street corner, or sleeping on a bench.  be thankful that you have so many luxuries that other people may only dream of.  be thankful.  you don’t realize how good you have it. 

watch this video and realize just how blessed you really are.  and be thankful.

"pray also for me, that whenever i speak, words may be given me so that i will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which i am an ambassador in chains. pray that i may declare it fearlessly, as i should."-ephesians 6:19-20