A Grateful Heart :)

God’s grace fills my heart with the desire to worship Him with humility and gratitude. Thanksgiving is a time to stop for a moment and give thanks for God’s love and grace. Like Christmas, the world complicates Thanksgiving in attempts to make it something other than what it was intended to be.

The Chickasaw in me has mixed feelings when it comes to the holiday and would like for it to be about accepting differences and understanding that we need those differences. I believe that was at the heart of the first Thanksgiving. We cannot make it in this world without help. As those early Native Americans came to learn, giving someone a hand often leads to them taking a leg, an arm, and a heart.

I suppose it is all part of human nature, but Thanksgiving is a time to think of thanking in a new way. We gather to remind ourselves that we have been given much and we are here to give. The lessons this year have helped me when it comes to giving. My giving has been unhealthy and left me depleted. I’m learning to give in a different way, and I’m finding that I am blessed and filled by healthy giving. I’m most thankful this year for the lessons in giving and the changes in my heart that have resulted.

Thanksgiving is about helping and giving my heart to those in my path. I’ve learned hard lessons, as have we all, when it comes to helping. I’ve been duped and taken more times than I care to recount. In those situations, I remember the first Thanksgiving. The intentions were good, and hearts were in one accord as they were all in the same boat. Giving is about knowing that we are all God’s children and in the same boat. I’ve learned that it isn’t about fixing and fusing. That’s changed the way I give and live:)

Gathering at church this morning and with my family this afternoon will remind me to be grateful for the love God has placed in my path. I hope I will also remember and give thanks for the fact that we are all beautifully different and bring something special to His table. God needs for me to love others, differences and all; that is at the heart of Thanksgiving. Knowing that God is in all and loves all makes the holiday truly a holy day as I see others as God sees them and give as He desires.

The lessons of late have left me speechless and filled with wonder. They remind me of an image from years ago when God showed me that Christ is a beautiful mosaic made up of all His sweet children. At a distance, I see my loving Savior. As I draw nearer to His side, I see others in Him. That changes the way I look at the world, and it changes the way I see God. We are all His beloved, and I am thankful for Christ’s precious love which binds us together in a way that only it can. It fills my heart and spills over into the world if I leave it alone and let it flow through me with the help of the Holy Spirit:)

Happy Thanksgiving, and God bless you in a beautiful way today:)

Have Mercy

Mercy is at the heart of forgiveness and grace. The dictionary definition reads “kindness or forgiveness shown especially to somebody a person has power over.” The Jesus Prayer asks for mercy. “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.” The phrase “Have mercy!” is one used in a number of ways, some having nothing to do with Jesus or mercy. Mercy is something I say lightly even when praying until I stop long enough to take in what it means in regard to my relationship with God and others. Having mercy shows others the difference Christ makes in my life and is essential if I am to be the witness He desires for me to be.

God has power over me and over all in existence, yet He choses to be merciful. When I pray the Jesus prayer, I am humbled in a way that makes me want to be merciful. I have to think about those I have power over when I think of mercy. I’m not in a position that gives me power, but like everyone, there are those in my path who afford me the opportunity to show mercy. When I’m with my grand daughters, I can be merciful and show grace. When someone is waiting on me in a restaurant or a shop, I can be merciful. When I’m teaching, I can show mercy. I can also show mercy to someone who has mistreated me or been unkind to me. I have the right to retaliate, but if I chose to forgive and be kind, I take the opportunity to show mercy.

Showing mercy brings me closer to God who is the source of all mercy. When I pray the Jesus prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner,” I add the phrase “and please help me to be merciful to those in my path.” Knowing what mercy is and praying for mercy is only the beginning. I have to have mercy, or the prayer is empty and the word useless. The same goes for grace and forgiveness. As I extend grace, mercy, and forgiveness, I draw nearer to God and to those in my path. I am to learn only one thing during this brief little blink of life in the midst of my eternal journey, and that is love. I am here to learn to say to God, to myself, and to those in my path, “I love you” and show I know what that phrase means in the way I live out my life here on earth.

Love, peace, grace, forgiveness, and mercy are words easily spoken. Unfortunately, living out the concepts they represent is much more difficult than uttering the words. I pray I will live out love, peace, grace, forgiveness, and mercy in my life as Christ taught. I am human and know I will fall short of the lofty goal, but I will come a lot closer if I make it my aim to show them to others instead of simply sitting back and asking God to show them to me.

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