Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Good Thoughts List

My counselor husband, Chuck, uses a "Good Thoughts" list with his clients, something he's found helpful in his own life as well. As we approach Thanksgiving Day, perhaps you could use some help in the gratitude department. I know I do. Based on Philippians 4:8, this exercise can change the way you look at your daily routine and circumstances.
"Finally brethren, think on these things."  This is Paul's command to the Philippian believers and is very good advice for us today.  It ensures we won’t be led astray by our lust and pride.  It ensures we will experience more of a "renewed mind" (Rom. 12:2).  And it ensures our relationships with others will be God-honoring. 
So, what are these powerful things we need to think about?
Things that are . . .
True (being authentic and accurate, John 17:17 says God's Word is truth)

Noble (excellent, high moral character, honest)

Just (correct principles, fair, righteous)

Pure (free from sin, guiltless, complete and true)

Lovely (having a spiritual beauty, highly pleasing)

Good Report (a good description of a person or event)

Virtue (goodness, moral excellence and righteousness)

Praiseworthy (deserving of approval or admiration)
Using these words, find examples from your life in the last twenty-four hours and write them in your journal.  That's right—make your own daily Good Thoughts List.  As you are looking for these things throughout the day, you are literally obeying what the verse commands. 
When I (Chuck) started this practice in my own life, I found it very encouraging. Dwelling on the true, noble, just, pure, lovely, good, virtuous, and praiseworthy left no room for negative, destructive thoughts.  
A daily good thoughts list helps me "bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5). 
How fulfilling it is to know and practice scripture.  That's where the real power lies. You and your family will appreciate the real change resulting in their lives by learning to apply scripture.
Happy journaling! And Happy Thanksgiving! Every day of the week. :)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Lesson I Learned from a Turkey

Copyright © 2004 Eileen Rife

I stood before a freezer full of turkeys at the grocery store. Scavenging through the assortment of Butterballs, I spotted a particularly plump fellow resting in the back of the unit. Since I was hosting around 12 guests for Thanksgiving dinner, I wanted at least a 15 pound foul to feed my crew. Greedy for that bird and in a hurry to get out of the store and on to the next errand, I fumbled through the front line of turkeys to reach the back. As I did, one of the smaller, yet equally solid birds in the front, slid from its resting place and landed squarely on my left foot. An immediate dance ensued to the tune of “Turkey on the Toe.” My little Rumpelstiltskin tirade got me nowhere. Busy, self-absorbed shoppers passed me right and left. Suddenly, I began to feel sorry for myself and very much alone. Even a little sick to my stomach.

Collecting myself, I threw the sorry turkey back into its stall and hobbled into the next aisle, telling myself I would shop for a turkey later. Rubbing my stinging toes, I reprimanded myself for being so greedy for that particular bird. In my pain, I slowed down and began to reflect on the previous days. As I pondered the richness of my life, I began to feel less hurried, less greedy for big bird in his frozen cage. I thought about what was really important to me. As I did, the Holy Spirit filled my mind with verses from Psalm 128 that I had learned years earlier.

How blessed is everyone who fears the Lord,
Who walks in His ways.
When you shall eat of the fruit of your hands,
You will be happy and it will be well with you.
Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine, (and so I had –parenthesis mine)
Within your house,
Your children like olive plants (indeed they were – parenthesis mine)
Around your table.

Greed turned to gratitude as I thought about my family. How God had blessed us because we revered Him above all! Our precious “olive plants” were now grown and pursuing God’s direction for their lives. Our oldest daughter, Rachel, was on her way to India, fulfilling a ten-year dream of becoming a career missionary. I thought about our second daughter, Michelle, who in a few short weeks would graduate from college with a degree in biblical counseling and marry a youth minister in the coming months. Together, she and Jonathan would serve the Lord in a new church plant in Pennsylvania. And then my mind drifted to my precious last-born, Stephanie, a senior in high school, who was earnestly seeking God’s will for the coming year.

And my heart was full. Overflowing, in fact. I was so grateful that my husband, Chuck, and I could have the privilege and responsibility of rearing three godly daughters with God’s grace and wisdom. We had drilled into them over their growing years that to glorify God in body, soul, and mind was their chief end. At each graduation we left them with the scriptural charge, “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth”(3 John 4).

In that moment, as shopping carts careened around me, I inwardly breathed a thank-you prayer to my Father for 20 years of home schooling my girls and 28 years of marriage to a godly, compassionate man. Somehow, in that inner moment, the size turkey I served on Thanksgiving Day seemed trivial in light of the many blessings God had just brought to my mind. 

Funny how God can use even a frozen turkey on a harried lady to quiet her heart, regain her perspective, and teach her a lesson about gratitude.
That article was written ten years ago. Today, all three of my married daughters are serving the Lord around the world in full-time missions. We now enjoy seven precious grandchildren, ages eight to four months, around our table. And Chuck and I have been married 38 years. My family has provided much fodder for my books, especially the passions behind my fiction works. Check them out at my Amazon author page for a Christmas gift!

Daddy's Hands

Often my grandchildren ask me to tell them a story about when I was a little girl. Here is one of their favorites in honor of my Daddy...