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

Positive Perspective- Musings and Prayer

There is so much in the news right now, between natural disasters, interpersonal violence, and ugly politics that if I dwell too much on those situations and issues I can easily feel overwhelmed and discouraged. I need to remind myself to focus on what is good and right and beautiful, in order to keep a positive perspective, even while considering how to respond to the various situations that present themselves. In fact, I find that, rather than being an escape, focusing on that which is good helps me then have a better idea of how to respond appropriately and constructively to situations that need my attention.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.    Philippians 4:8

We can choose what we allow our minds to dwell on. In this passage Paul points us in the direction of uplifting meditation.

Monday: Let’s discipline our minds today to focus on things that are just and honorable. Pray for a growing ability to recognize truth.

Tuesday: Let’s ask God to give us an appreciation for purity and true beauty, then look for such things today.

Wednesday: Do you tend to dwell on that which is commendable or that which is unattractive in others? Choose to focus on others’ strengths and see how that affects your attitude and speech.

Thursday: Throughout today let’s be alert for excellence, whether man-made or in creation, and stop to think about what makes it excellent.

Friday: Let’s look for reasons to praise God and people today. Be sure to give sincere praise wherever praise is due.

Saturday: Think about these things… Make the choice to dwell on that which is good and uplifting and encouraging.

Autumn Maple