Thursday Night Football and the Game of Second Chances–Thankful Thursday

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Tonight rain is finally falling. There is some thunder rumbling in the background as I watch a little Thursday Night Football. Chiefs and Eagles. Although neither team is really one of my favorites, it’s still a pretty good game–at least so far. Watching a game you have no stake in while listening to the rain is pretty therapeutic. Who knew?

I have my eye on the Chiefs this year. I’ve always felt a little bad for Alex Smith. Smith, in case you don’t know, is actually a pretty stellar quarterback who happened to suffer a concussion last year when he played for San Francisco. In pops Colin Kaepernick and the rest is history. Smith is now on the bench and Kaepernick is the new golden boy. Although it has worked out very well for the 49ers and for Kaepernick, it still seemed a bit unfair to me, especially since Smith hadn’t done anything wrong but get conked on the head.

Alex Smith is doing a pretty fine job as a Chief. There’s hope again in Kansas City, and they haven’t felt hope on the football field in some time. Alex Smith has been given a second chance, he’s using it well, and it’s making a difference in the spirit of an entire community.

Then there’s Michael Vick. Vick also lost his job, although for entirely different reasons. Vick has also been given a second chance, and he is also using it well, and it, too, has brought some hope back to people. Not at this moment, while he has only hit one of his last six passes, but still, it’s good to see that people can change. I think his humble words to former Eagles coach, current Chiefs’ coach and Vick’s mentor, Andy Reid, are proof that Vick is a winner in the game of second chances.

What does all this have to do with a thankful Thursday? Well, I, too, am a player in the game of second chances. Only it’s not just a game. It’s so much more. Because of Christ, I’ve been given a second chance. I’m not who I used to be–not where I used to be–not how I used to be. That second chance has given me a hope and a future and the chance to share them both with others.

Tonight, while sitting on the couch, listening to the rain, watching the game, God reminded me of that. . . again, and for that, I am very, very thankful.

Being Thankful for Difficult People–Thankful Thursday

Let’s just say from the get-go that I DO NOT, repeat DO NOT, have this one down.

The small group I share in is currently studying ourselves a little Mary and Martha. Since I’m pretty sure someone will ask, I’ll go ahead and tell you that we are using the book, Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World: Finding Intimacy with God in the Busyness of Life, by Joanna Weaver.

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This week as we were studying, we talked a lot about the cure for worry, part of which is thankfulness. And our friend, Missy, shared with us about a little thing she did a while back called “Count 1000 Gifts.” Basically, from a given list . . . for a month . . . you record . . . either by word or picture . . three things a day that you are thankful for. These three things are like little gifts given to us by God.

Little gifts that we may often overlook.

Little gifts that remind you of how blessed you are.

Little gifts like Day One: “Gifts tasted.” That’s pretty easy: chocolate, enchiladas, and a Snickers meal bar!

And Day Two: “Gifts flat.” Okay, I had to think about this one for a bit. So. . . cardstock, note cards, and those little make up removing baby wipes for your face that hotels give you sometimes! I love those!

Then came today. Day Three: Three Gifts Found in Difficult People. Ummmmmmmmm. Ohhhh Kayyyyy. Wellllllll. Yeah!

Here’s the thing. Like, here’s the thing about difficult people. They are people. Sometime they are me. Sometimes I don’t like to be reminded that I can be difficult. I have a couple of difficult people in my life right now–which isn’t always the case, and so, after at first being completely, like, I just want to skip this day go back to day one (I think there are left over enchiladas in the fridge and I KNOW there are brownies on the stove), I can’t.

I can’t skip today. You see, I have to be thankful for difficult people. In part, because God says so. In part, because I want to be a thankful person. In part, because I don’t want to lose joy. And in yet another part, because learning to be thankful for the gifts in difficult people helps to keep me from being a difficult person.

Then hopefully, when I am the difficult person, someone will choose to be thankful for the gifts in me. If for no other reason than I, like them, am God’s child.

So for today here are three “gifts” I am thankful for in difficult people.

Number 1–Difficult people open my eyes to people’s needs. I don’t even have to know their need, but it’s a pretty good assumption that when you are having a difficult person day–or week–or month–or life–something is going on, and I need to show a little compassion.

This, of course, leads to #2

Number 2–Difficult people help me to be a little more compassionate. (After I get done being really frustrated!) Again, if the difficult person helps me to learn to respond to them and to others with love rather than by myself being difficult, that really is a gift.

And

Number 3–Difficult people remind me to pray. I don’t just mean for them, but just to pray. I am reminded to pray and to praise and to be really thankful for those people, things and situations in my life that aren’t difficult, but also for those things that are. The good and the bad combined shape me and mold me to take on the character of Christ and to grow in His love.

So I’m now looking forward to the rest of the month, the journey and the gifts that God will help me see that He has given me to help me be a gift to those around me!

I’d never heard of the “One Thousand Gifts”. Maybe you haven’t either. You can learn more about this adventure in thankfulness from Ann Voskamp, in her book, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are.”

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Why VBS Is Still A Very Good Thing–Thankful Thursday

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There’s a lot of talk these days about whether or not to continue with Vacation Bible Schools. Our church, for one, has taken a couple of VBS breaks recently. Yet, this year, we chose to once again invest our resources into a great week of ministry within our community. Here are some of the reasons why we believe VBS is still a very good thing:

1–Kids get to hear about Jesus

2–Grownups get to hear about Jesus

3–The church is unified

4–Excitement is created

5–Great cookies

6–Kids learn about missions like never before

7–Generational ministry happens in a powerful way

8–New people connect; old people do, too

9–Lives are changed; people are saved

10–Passion is stirred

Granted not all these things may happen in every church. But, that doesn’t negate the fact that these things do happen and when they do, God is glorified and the kingdom is strengthened. And that, is still, and will always be, a very good thing! I’m thankful for that truth, and for the people who use their gifts and talents to serve Christ through VBS’s around the world. And on this Thursday, that makes me very thankful. (That and the fact that clean up is just about done!)

Oh! And one other reason . . . who doesn’t like slime???!!

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Andrew the Guard getting slimed at VBS

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VBS team members and me at closing night.

You may have some other great reasons why your church still does VBS or why your kids love VBS. Feel free to share!

The Mystery of Change–Thankful Thursday

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There’s been a lot of talk lately around where I live about change. Change, as I’m sure many of you know is a very delicate subject. Some change is easy. We change the channel, we change our minds, we change our clothes (although we may not want to change our style of clothes–enter Stacy and Clinton).

Other change is not so easy–like where we live or work or go to church.

So I’ve been thinking about this lately and have decided that I’m thankful for change. I’m thankful that God changed me. I’m thankful that from childhood I’ve had opportunities to change where I live meeting new people and experiencing different cultures. I’m thankful to live where there are changes in seasons. I’m thankful for job changes I’ve had through the years, and I’m thankful for the way God has and will continue to change my thinking as I grow and mature.

And I’m especially thankful for the hope and promise of change to come. I’m thankful that I can be reminded that change is the goal.

“Listen, I tell you a mystery, we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed–in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed!” I Corinthians 15:51-52

That’s a change I’m looking forward to. I’m not sure when it’s going to happen, or exactly what it’s going to look like, but I do know that the One who never changes is keeping His promise to do a mighty change in us for all eternity! Maybe soon. I sure hope so!

Winnie the Pooh Was So Smart–Thankful Thursday

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“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”–Winnie the Pooh

That Winnie the Pooh was so smart!

I recently saw this quote on a friend’s Facebook page. Recently, as in the day after we returned home from dropping the son off to start a new phase in his life in a new, great place, recently. Not only did we say goodbye to him for a while, so did his fiancé, and just a few days before that he and his college friends (plus a couple of high school buddies) said their “see ya later mans”.

We also had to say good bye to our future daughter in law, our “fake adopted” daughter Tiphani, and The Rumseys–a precious couple, friends of the aforementioned son, as they headed off to a church plant in Florida.

Of course, last year we said goodbye to another son who headed out to the vast unknown of Russia, and at Christmas we told him good bye again as he headed back “home.” This time, we had a daughter in law to say good bye to as well.

Each time, my heart was oh-so-sad, even though it knew the good byes had to come, and they were all part of the plan. It was still hard, and on some days will continue to be hard as we are so far away from those we love and have come to love so much.

BUT. . . “How lucky we are to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

How lucky, indeed, to have met and loved these precious people who have made our lives richer even in the short times we have known them. We are lucky, indeed, thankful for sure, and better forever because of the blessings of friends and family in our lives. All of which make this a very Thankful Thursday!

(The Winnie the Pooh above is the Russian Winnie the Pooh, in case you were wondering!)

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What’s in the Bible–Thankful Thursday

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Today’s post is short and sweet! (Well, for me anyway!)

What’s in the Bible Church Edition curriculum is straight up something to be thankful for. Catchy name–What’s in the Bible–and it sums it up pretty nicely.

Hope you like nuggets, because here’s one you’ll love. A week ago, some of the 6th graders I disciple were meeting with my hub and me when I asked them what were their highs and lows of their time in our children’s ministry. Without a doubt, each one of them said that the What’s in the Bible lessons were one of their absolutely most favorite things about church. Yeah, 6th graders. Yeah, puppet teaching. Yeah, corny songs (okay that part may make sense!) Yeah, blew my mind, too.

Their reason??? They said it was because they learned so much stuff about the Bible, what it means and how it fits together–stuff that fit together with what they were learning in public school and it helped them know for sure that the Bible is true! BOOM!

Interestingly enough, a few weeks ago son #2 and his fiance, both whom are Bible college students, were visiting and helping in class. When class was over, they remarked on how incredible it was how much our kids knew–not just the facts, but understanding what it meant to their lives. DOUBLE BOOM!

So, to the Good Lord, Phil Vischer, Buck Denver, and all those on the What’s in the Bible team: Today, Thursday, May 16, I am thankful for you, your efforts, inspiration and faithfulness to help the next generation know, love and follow Christ.

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I got to hear and meet Phil Vischer this winter in St. Louis. Turns out we actually used to live in his hometown of Muscatine, IA! Go IOWA!

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Some of HiSKidZ working together–(Go Unity and Cooperation!) to find out What’s in the Bible!

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Opportunity’s Knockin–Thankful Thursday

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I remember Mark Proctor when he was just a boy. Well, kind of. I remember Mark Proctor when he was a teenager. To be honest, Thankful Thursday could be completely devoted to the entire Proctor family–some of my favorite people in the whole world.

Mark’s mom and dad, Gene and Kathy, mentored my husband and me in some of our younger days. His older brother Matt is the president of the college our sons attend(ed)–a gifted leader, preacher and story teller. His younger brother, Michael, works for a church camp that is doing amazing things in the lives of students–young and old–in the Midwest. Their wives and children are blessings in their own right. We are thankful to have them all as even small parts of our life journey.

Last week I received a fb message from Mark about a new album project he is working on, and asked if I would be willing to share the concept with others. I don’t think he meant through my blog–I’m not sure he even knew I had a blog. SURPRISE!!! To be honest, I had no idea what all he was really up to, until I clicked the link and watched his video yesterday.

I thought I was going to get to listen to a few excerpts of his songs or something, but instead learned about how it could be possible to be a part of this direction and opportunity in his life. He’s using something called Kickstarter which I think is a pretty cool way to gain support for a project. I’d never heard of Kickstarter, but I have to say I’m intrigued. You may be, too, now!

Here’s a link to Mark’s kickstarter
Mark Proctor’s Kickstart

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All in all, the whole thing has made be thankful for Mark and for opportunity–opportunity to use our gifts and talents, opportunity to share in others gifts and talents, and opportunity to simply do things, like make an album, that just wouldn’t have been available a few years ago.

The opportunities allow us to follow where God leads, to glorify the kingdom, and to express our hearts to the One who makes our heart beat.

I’m thankful for Mark’s dreams and for his willingness to follow them. Maybe today you have a dream you want to follow. Experience tells me that opportunity usually comes knocking at the most unexpected times. So when it does, be sure to answer. I mean, look through the peephole first, but then answer!

I hope you are having a very thankful Thursday! Feel free to share what you are thankful for today. I’d love to hear!