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Unexpected Challenges

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Unexpected challenges. Challenges that come suddenly, without warning. That appear to have no immediate end. Ones that require God’s grace daily, moment by moment. Full of days that are exhausting, draining, and leave you feeling empty.

It has been two month since I have written a blog post. I felt like I had nothing left to give at the end of the day.
And this particular challenge ended just as it had begun. Unexpectedly, Suddenly, Intensely. 
I was left with immense relief along with lingering questions. Questions that I do not have answers to. Questions that I will never know the answers to. Questions that leave me without a sense of closure.
In the midst of these questions, I chose to rest in God’s grace and sovereignty. I trust that He sees the much larger picture. I trust that He can and will work all things together for good. I trust that He is bigger and He is able.
I choose to remember who God is. In the midst of this challenge, did I do everything perfectly? No, but I remember that God’s grace and forgiveness is there for me. I remember that He can work all things together for good. I remember that He is able to do more. so much more than I could ever imagine. When I see the limitations, the brokenness, the past… I wonder. I worry. I fear. When I look to God. I remember that He is ABLE. He is Love. He is Grace.
“Never ending, unstoppable, never giving up, un-breaking, always and forever love.”
I choose to lay down my burdens and worries. I choose trust Him. I choose not to feel guilty by the relief that I feel but trust God. I trust that He is proud of me. That I was faithful for the season He gave me.
I choose to be grateful for the lessons during this challenge.
I am grateful for how I saw my husband supported me in amazing ways. I am so grateful for the gift of my husband. For moments when he truly stepped up as my hero.
I am grateful for how God changed my heart in the midst of this challenge. For in the midst of feeling empty and drained, my heart started changing. Bitter. Angry. Discontent. Grumbling. Discouraged. A very negative attitude started to emerge. I cried out to Him to do a work in my heart that I was unable to do. In the midst of the challenge, He changed my heart. To dependency on Him. A heart of gratitude. Receiving His grace. Praising Him.
He opened my eyes and gave me fresh perspective. He encouraged me as I choose to trust Him one day at a time.
My husband warned me one particular Sunday that he was not preaching at me. The big idea of his message “Challenges are an opportunity for God to grow our character and develop our confidence in Him”. While he may not have been preaching at me, God knew exactly the reminder I needed. My Abba Father loves me enough to convict me, challenge me, and encourage me. All at the same time.
I know my tendency. To take on another’s burdens. The desire to rescue.
My Abba Father gently reminds me that I can lay it all down at His feet. Those burdens are too heavy for me to carry. They are not meant for me. HE is the Rescuer. HE is the Healer. HE is the Restorer and Redeemer. HE is ABLE. HE is Powerful. HE is Love. 
The compassion, love, concern my heart feels is a small glimmer of God’s heart.
So I choose to trust Him. 


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Daily Gratitude

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Choosing a heart of gratitude.

I am always amazed at how choosing to be grateful changes my perspective. A simple example. Yesterday it was cold. Very cold. I had to walk miles in the cold. I walked with my students. I walked to the T station. I waited in the cold for the bus. I could have been very miserable. I could have focused on the fact that the schools in the county that I taught at in Virginia were closed for cold temperature. I confess I have been ungrateful in the past about the cold. Yet, yesterday I choose to be grateful. I was grateful for the new winter jacket that kept me warm. I was grateful for the tall wool socks and snow boats that kept my feet warm. Instead of grumbling about why I live in Boston, where it’s cold and winter is long, I instead was grateful that I now have the appropriate winter gear to keep me warm. One more way that I’m adjusting, getting settled, and becoming at home in Boston.

When I choose to praise God for who He is and for His promises, it drives out worry, doubt, and fear. When I remember God’s provision in the past, it gives me confidence to trust Him with my future.

I am learning in my day to day how to trust God. I don’t have to have it all together. I can simply trust that my Abba Father has a plan for my day and He is in the details.

I am grateful for a dear friend. She took the initiative to follow God’s leading. A few months ago, she contacted me and another friend with the idea of sending daily praises through email. It has been such a powerful activity. Some days the praises come easily. Other days I have to look beyond my feeling and choose to be grateful. I look to God and am grateful for who He is and for the simple things around me. Even on days that I do not actually write out my email of praises, my eyes are still open. I am on the lookout for praises.

It’s really a matter of what you are looking for. Often times the problems of life are very obvious. What is wrong with the day. What you wish were different. However, when you train your eyes to look for the moments of gratitude, they are all around you. It can be the simple things of life. A smile. A thank you. A hot cup of tea. An email from a friend. The sun shining in the midst of the cold.

Are you on the lookout for moments of gratitude? What are you grateful for today?