It’s November, the month that those of us living in the United States celebrate Thanksgiving. This holiday reminds us to give thanks for our blessings. In my own life, I’ve been working to cultivate an “attitude of gratitude.” As my attitude has shifted, I have noticed a much higher level of contentment in my life! Life definitely isn’t “perfect”–but it is all a blessing!
The United States of America is entering a new chapter. For actually a few years, I have had the sense that the United States was going to enter a time of difficulty. I believe that the time of difficulty has now begun. Recent events have thrown my workplace into upheaval. Really, the entire country and, to some extent, the world, are in a place of uncertainty. There is a culture of animosity right now in the United States. At certain points, all of these events have been a lot to take in emotionally. I’ve been surrounded by them from morning to evening. I felt so weak and drained. Then, I felt the Lord telling me to live courageously. He confirmed this as every song that came on the radio seemed to echo the theme of courage and bravery! No matter where you are, YOU are being called to live courageously.
What does it mean to live courageously?
Living courageously means keeping your center on JESUS even when the world has gone crazy.
Living courageously means being PEACE in a world where anger and negativity is rampant.
Living courageously means walking HUMBLY with God even when you are surrounded by darkness and ego on every side.
Living courageously means casting out fear and replacing it with LOVE.
Living courageously means speaking up for JUSTICE for those who are voiceless.
Living courageously means RELIANCE on Jehovah-Jireh (God the Provider) when you don’t have a paycheck and wonder how you will pay the bills, or when you don’t know if you will soon have a paycheck.
Living courageously means being a sign of HOPE to others even when you feel weighed down by the burdens of your life and the world.
Living courageously means being a person of PRAISE as the storm rages all around you.
Living courageously means TRUSTING in God when all stability is pulled out from under you.
Living courageously means picking up your shield of FAITH and the sword of the Spirit, the WORD OF GOD and knowing they are your weapons.
Living courageously means staying in a place of PRAYER in a world that distracts and fills us with noise.
Living courageously means knowing that God’s POWER is made perfect in your WEAKNESS. (2 Cor. 12:9)
Are you ready to live courageously? It will not be easy, friends. Thankfully we have our perfect Heavenly Father to fight for us, His Son who endured every temptation that we do (without giving in), and the Holy Spirit who permeates every darkness and every fiber of our being. Let’s go!
It’s time to live courageously.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”~James 1:17
This time of year we celebrate the greatest, most perfect gift the world has ever seen: Jesus Christ! God the Father sent us His only Son as a gift. Jesus Christ coming as a human being enabled us to have a personal relationship with God, a more intimate relationship. All along the Father knew that His Son would suffer a horrific death. He sacrificed His only Son for wretched human beings! But He knew that this would bring salvation for His children. The gift of relationship with Jesus Christ is one that can’t be beat. And the gift of salvation? It’s an eternal gift!
I have asked for many gifts throughout my lifetime. In this post I am thinking specifically of gifts that I have asked of my Heavenly Father. Some gifts I have asked for years, but they are not gifts He has seen fit to give me–at least not yet. Instead, He’s given me many other gifts–gifts that have blessed my life abundantly and made my heart full.
I have an amazing roommate. I am a hugely independent person. If one year ago you would have told me I’d be sharing a house, I wouldn’t have believed you. Having a companion to share life with has been one of the biggest blessings of this year. Especially a roommate that God truly chose and made it clear to us that this was an open door from Him. Our temperaments and our vision for life are so alike.
I have Benny, an amazingly affectionate kitty. I was “maybe” going to get a cat. Then he put his paw on my arm and looked up at me. So he came home with me. Never in my life have I met a cat like him. I am so grateful he is mine to care for and love. Every day he provides laughter to us with his antics.The Lord knew I needed him.
The Heavenly Father has given me a job that allows me to interact with my brothers and sisters from around the world daily–one of my greatest joys. And this year, He gave me the long-awaited opportunity to travel across the world!
I could go on and on. The thing is, what I’ve noticed is that nearly all of these gifts were unexpected. They weren’t what I prayed for, but they were still answered prayers. I didn’t ask for these gifts, but I needed them greatly. And I am so grateful. My heart is happy and full.
What great gifts from our Father are we not seeing because we’re simply focused on the ones we don’t have?
Our Father is a good, good Father!
I walked into find this on my desk one morning this week.
All of a sudden I felt a boost of strength. I felt keenly the love of not only my coworker, but also God’s love. Knowing that someone took extra time out of their morning to stop, buy me some tea, and to write Bible verses touched me deeply. Reading the verses and message on the cup also gave me strength for the day ahead, after weeks when I felt like nothing had gone right. It was a touch from my Father in Heaven, giving me a push to be what I needed to be for those I am put in place to serve. The problems melted away and I remembered that my Father and I were in this together–it was going to be alright for me and for my clients.
Sometimes we shrug off an inspiration to say something nice or feel “too busy” to do a small act of kindness. We may not do these acts because we think that they won’t mean much. The fact is, you never know what it could mean to someone. The small things really aren’t that small. They can mean a lot and make a huge impression on someone.
Step out and do the “small things.”
What are some small ways you show you care about those around you?
The people of the Bible fasted at pivotal points. Fasting is a practice in Jewish tradition, and fasting was also often practiced in moments of desperation and crying out to God. In 2
Samuel, David repented of his sin and fasted in hopes that his child (conceived out of wedlock) might be healed and live. In the New Testament, Saul was bent on destroying those who preached Christ. After hearing Jesus on the road to Damascus, he fasted for 3 days (Acts 9). He is then healed of physical blindness (that occurred after hearing Christ–though it’s implied that he was also spiritually blind and gained spiritual sight). Saul goes on to become St. Paul–one of the most zealous people to ever live for Christ. And, of course, Jesus fasted. In Acts, the early Christians also fasted and prayed before praying over others and sending them out on mission. Now, Christians all over the world practice fasting.
In my own life, fasting seemed daunting. In the Catholic Church, there are two days that are prescribed for fasting. Even those two days of the year are very difficult for me physically. Recently, I read a book that helped me to see the history, benefits, hows, and whys of fasting. It gave stories of people’s positive and negative experiences with various types of fasting. The book was “Fasting: Spiritual Freedom Beyond Our Appetites” by Lynne Baab. My eyes were opened to the benefits of fasting and how it can bring one into greater intimacy with the Lord. Fasting leaves an open space for God. It disciplines our bodies and minds to grow in the Spirit. It detaches us from the things of the world in order to better be attuned to the Father. I was able to ponder other types of fasts: for example, fasting from social media, jewelry, or certain types of foods (instead of all food).
I am making an effort to fast from listening to music. Perhaps that seems a silly fast. For me, however, it is necessary. (And maybe you, too!) I really like listening to music, but it brings a lot of noise to my life. I want to hear the the still, small voice of God. I want to leave an opening for the Holy Spirit to speak to me. I don’t want to hear songs on repeat in my head. Of course, the Spirit can speak through music. I want to leave room to hear Him in the stillness, in sacred silence. I desire to receive His love. My commute is now a time for a conversation with my Heavenly Father. I feel that even this short time in the car is preparing me better for the challenges ahead in the day. I walk into work in a better state of mind and clothed in the armor of God (Eph. 6). When I blast music on the car ride, I don’t walk into work with the same peace. I am so thankful for this new knowledge of fasting, and the grace to implement it!
When are some times to fast?
- When you are struggling with decisions or confused, not at peace
- When you are struggling with habitual sins and habits you can’t seem to break
- When loved ones are in trouble
- When you are longing for intimacy with God
- When your country or another region of the world is in turmoil
What are your experiences of fasting? What types of fasting do you practice?
For many, this day is a day of rejoicing, because it is a day free of our paid jobs. We are able to sleep longer and take time for leisurely things that we otherwise might not have a chance for. But let’s not forget that this day is just another day for the many who are unemployed.
Here is a prayer for those who are working, that we may dedicate our work and gifts to God (prayer found here):
I thank you for this Labor Day holiday. I thank you for this time when I can choose to get added rest, or added fun, or added time to catch up on necessary chores.
Lord, this is also a great day for reflection. This is a day to thank you for the many gifts and talents that you have given me to serve you and serve others.
Lord, you have equipped me, you have prepared me, and you will enable me to make great contributions to this world. Enlarge my vision of your awesome plan for my life.
I thank you for your heavenly guidance. I celebrate the revelation, motivation, and determination that will take me to the next step in my destiny.
Bless my work and my career for your glory. Enlarge my opportunities. Enable me to be prosperous as I dedicate myself to giving my best to the work assignments you have given me.
In Jesus’ Name I pray,
Here is another prayer, for those seeking employment (found here):
Yesterday, May 1st, was the feast of Saint Joseph the Worker. Humans must work. It is part of the fabric of our daily lives. Saint Joseph worked as a carpenter. This can be difficult labor and takes much precision. Saint Joseph shows us that work can be holy and a prayer.
(Picture found here.)
Saint Joseph worked hard to provide for the Holy Family. He was a man of integrity, and a godly man. He obeyed when he was told in a dream to “be not afraid” and to take Mary as his wife. He gives men an example of strong character and following the will of God. Of course, he also is a wonderful example of a husband and father providing for his family.
I feel a great connection with the communion of saints, those in Heaven who have gone before us. Even now they pray for us, close to the ear of God! On yesterday’s special feast, I received some happy news about my job! Coincidence? I think not! If you are unsure where to go with your career or unemployed, Saint Joseph is a great one to reach out to!
Saint Joseph the Worker, pray for those who are underemployed or unemployed!