Thank you!

I thank my God every time I remember you.  In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy… Philippians 1:3-4

This morning I have been filled with gratitude. I’m not sure why this morning in particular, as I wasn’t consciously turning my thoughts that way any more than usual. In fact, I was reading in The Rule of Benedict: Insights for the Ages about hospitality and prayer and maintaining balance in one’s life, when all of a sudden I was almost overwhelmed by a wave of gratitude as the names and faces of people started coming to mind.

People who have spoken into my life with words of encouragement and sometimes admonition, helping me grow in faith and character and way of living… I so appreciate the people who gently but clearly point me forward, even at times when I’m not always so willing or confident that I am able to move forward, and who walk along the way with me, encouraging me to keep going and keep growing.

Mentors and others who have inspired me in my art and writing over the years… I sometimes look back at early pieces I painted or have written and am both humbled and grateful as I remember the encouraging words they gave me. And knowing that there is always much room to grow, I am still so thankful for their gracious words that encourage me to keep going and keep growing.

Those who have mentored and encouraged me in various ways of teaching that I have done over the years, including homeschooling my children, training dogs and their people, teaching classes and workshops of various sorts, leading Bible studies, as well as other less formal forms of teaching… I am so thankful for the ways they have encouraged both confidence and humility, encouraging me to keep going and keep growing, both in my own skills and in my ability to encourage others on their own journeys.

So to the many, many people who have spoken and those who continue to speak words of grace and hope and love into various areas of my life, thank you, thank you, thank you. I do thank my God when I remember you and I pray for you with joy. Some of you I know well and some I have not yet met and may not meet in this life. And many have gone on before and are no doubt still cheering me on from unseen sidelines in ways I might not recognize but I suspect impact me nonetheless, helping to me to keep on going and keep on growing in this life.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12:1-2

Bald Eagle

Connection and relationship– Musings and Prayer

My sweet Rowan most likely has nasal cancer. I say “most likely,” because I’m not going to put him through the stress of a biopsy or other diagnostics, but his symptoms point to a nasal tumor. We’re giving him prednisone to keep him comfortable as long as possible, and I am cherishing all the time I have with this wonderful dog, who has been by my side for thirteen years.

A few months ago, though, I was having a harder time enjoying time with Rowan. He has been declining for a while with cognitive dysfunction (dementia), and as he became at times confused and disconnected, I found myself distancing myself from him emotionally. I think that was an unconscious response on my part to my fear of losing him, as if distancing myself now would somehow protect me from the hurt of losing him.

Then a friend told me that perhaps Rowan, who has always taught me so much, is now teaching me about life and death. He encouraged me to stay connected, fully experiencing both the joy of Rowan’s presence and the sadness of impending loss. I realized that distancing myself to protect my heart wouldn’t work anyway; the loss will come, but I will be better off if it isn’t mingled with regret. And as I am finding now, through moments of joy and moments of tears, there is a unique sweetness in this time with Rowan.

As is often the case, lessons I learn from dogs make me think about other relationships, and as I ponder this connection, disconnection, and reconnection with Rowan, I am thinking also of my connections with other people. This week I’m hoping to cultivate peace and gratitude in my heart and in my relationships of all sorts. This passage is rich with encouragement on how to have peace in our relationships with one another, so let’s meditate on it together this week.

Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.                                                                                 Colossians 3:15-17 The Message

 

Monday: We need peace in our own hearts in order to be able to be in tune with one another, but sometimes we choose to go our own way, avoiding the peace and joy of connection for whatever reason. Let’s think today about whether our words and actions lead to greater or lesser connection, along with the peace that connection brings.

Tuesday: Gratitude is essential to having peace. Throughout today, think of what you have for which you’re grateful, and thank God for those things and for the time to enjoy them in the present.

Wednesday: God’s word imparts wisdom and points the way to peace with God and one another. Ask God to give you a growing hunger for his word. Spend time today mulling on a passage of Scripture, allowing it to dwell in you richly. This week’s passage is one I meditate on frequently, allowing it to deeply affect my attitude.

Thursday: When we give each other any kind of guidance, it must be done wisely and sensibly. Pray for wisdom and grace to be able to do this humbly, lovingly, and respectfully.

Friday: Whether or not we sing aloud during the day, we can have an attitude of praise and thanksgiving, based on our knowledge of God and of his amazing works. Praise him today!

Saturday: In all we do or say, we can it in the name of Jesus, faithfully representing him to the people around us. Thank God for the awesome privilege of representing Christ and pray for the ability to do it well.

Rowan and me