Resolve to live thankfully…{New Year’s BREAKOUT series finale, Part 7}

SNOWY TREE Copyright 2013 Sheila Kimball

SNOW TRUCK Copyright 2013 Sheila Kimball

SNOW CROSS Copyright 2013 Sheila Kimball

SNOWY ROAD Copyright 2013 Sheila Kimball

She said the road was icy. Snow had just started falling.

And her only child and his lovely girlfriend had been heading back to college when their vehicle skidded in the dark on the ice, flipping over and over, and a sweet young couple was rushed to a hospital somewhere in North Dakota having both sustained serious injuries.

Parents, so far from their babies, booked flights taking them east to west.

Word today is that this young couple — my cousin and his pretty love — are both doing better.

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
1 Chronicles 16:34

My heavy heart yesterday kept lifting them in prayer, asking others to do the same.

Praising God, and thanking Him that they came through this accident.

ALIVE!

With legs and brains and spinal cords intact.

Let us give thanks to the Lord for His loving-kindness and
His great works to the children of men!
Psalm 107:8

And tears of shock, worry and concern have turned to tears of joy and relief.

But what if?

What if things had worked out differently, as so much of our lives do?

When relationships end, or we suffer loss of a loved one; when homes are foreclosured or adult children stop speaking to a parent; when the diagnosis is fatal or a storm decimates; when our spouse runs off with another or a madman sprays a school, slaying tiny innocent souls…

When our hearts are all scraped up and bloody lying in the middle of life’s highway, bulldozed by the bad things that happen to good people all the time…

When we weep from the depths of a heart in a million pieces, or scream loudly at the God we hold responsible…

How then do we offer up thanks in all of it…

In everything give thanks;
For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you …
1 Thessalonians 5:18

It’s easy to be grateful when our Lord gives and gives and gives us what we want. But He also sometimes takes away, or withholds as we wait for answers or provision.

And when it doesn’t go the way we planned, can we join with Job in saying,

Blessed be the name of the Lord.
Job 1:21

Ann Voskamp, from her farm in Canada, has written one thousand times over about giving thanks. God teaches me through her words, and this year I am prompted to count the gifts, recording each one.

But more than reading another’s words, practicing the giving of thanks emanates from a heart that practices trust.

And His Word, bearing testimony to His eternal goodness, speaks to our hearts, helping them remember or learn to trust. But only when we still them long enough to listen and take it all in.

His forgiveness…

His everlasting love…

His mercy to all

The more we know Him — the Jesus of the Gospels who came as God in the flesh — the more we will trust Him.

And the more we trust Him with all of it — the best as well as the broken bits — the easier it becomes to say Thank You, Lord, for Who He is. Not necessarily for the awful, but thank you in the midst of the awful, where we learn lessons deep.

Because even when outcomes are not happy, and it is hard to spill thanks from a heart severed by sorrow, fear, worry or lack…

He is still good.

I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart;
    I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and rejoice in you;
    I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.
Psalm 9:1-2

As the old year was grinding to a halt, I was struggling to grind out a forced smile some days as my heart murmured and mumbled, choked in dark clouds and dismal endings. With personal finances facing a cliff, physical disability canceled my plans to finish a novel drafted in November in time to enter a publishing contest by the end of this month.

QUININE Copyright 2013 Sheila Kimball

ICE CUBES Copyright 2013 Sheila Kimball

Like the quinine water I was drinking to help ease my sorely spasmed muscles, it left a bitter taste in my mouth. And laced the edges of my heart with ice. And like a wintry road frozen slick, that’s a dangerous place to be.

I was allowing circumstances to get the better of me, making my heart start to bitter, which defiles many.

But God is merciful. And kind.

His consistent whispers of love to my doubting, troubled heart helped me repent, forgetting what lies behind, pressing on to what is yet to be with hope renewed by…

Staying in the moment.

And staying in His lap.

Taking captive stray thoughts sent to deter.

With no more detours from His path.

Trusting that His plans for me are good, even when covered in fog.

And being ever mindful to…

Continue earnestly in prayer,
being vigilant in it with thanksgiving.
Colossians 4:2

And vigilant can be defined as ever awake and alert; sleeplessly watchful.

Staying awake and alert so that I won’t miss a measure of His goodness, which comes bountifully my way each and every day, even when bills create stress and shoulders shout from the rooftops with pain.

Gifts big and small from the One who loves me like I’ve never done anything wrong, never failed Him, never hurt Him or others.

And He keeps on giving, with no end to His supply.

Good gifts.

Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God,
that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.
Hebrew 13:15

If only we will our eyes to see, and will our hearts to receive, remembering to be thankful.

And at the end of 2013, when all my gifts are counted, {maybe yours, too?} I pray that I am changed once again by His grace.

Resolving to be ever thankful, allowing my heart to BREAKOUT of any ingratitude.

Changed and equipped to serve Him, and you.

For the better…

~sheila

P.S. BREAKOUT 2013 concludes with today’s post. I am grateful to Him for impressing me with all these thoughts, and for allowing me to share my words with you. In honor of Him who hears my heart and loves me enough to constantly change and grow it, how fitting to wrap up this series in ribbons of gratitude. Thank you for joining me on the journey…

BREAKING INTO Counting His Gifts…with Ann.

1. Sitting alone with Him in the early morning, house still.

5. Chocolate!

25. Ice packs for sore shoulder

26. Words that convict

31. Four day detox

41. Hope renewed

44. Kimmi’s visit East

49. Christmas all packed away

50. Clean house!

51. The certainty that our present “suffering” is for our ultimate good!

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4 thoughts on “Resolve to live thankfully…{New Year’s BREAKOUT series finale, Part 7}

  1. It’s a journey isn’t it, the one from bitterness to gratitude…being changed by His grace. I love hearing how you allow God to speak into your life in such a real way, and encourage us through His amazing word.
    Praying for improved health for you, and strength to keep doing what He’s called you to do.
    Blessings,
    Ali

    • It is a journey, for sure, like our relationship with Him. But like other sins, at any point along the journey we can get waylaid by bitterness is we are not carefully guarding our hearts.

      Thank you for your prayers. Means a lot. Rotater Cuff injuries take a LONG time to heal and are a very big OUCH! Ice has become my new best friend. Last time this happened was six months of progressively getting better before completely healed. Learning patience in the suffering…