Archive | November 2015

Living in Gratitude

Everyday is a day to be grateful for what we have been blessed.  Let’s face it, we are lucky to live in a country with so much abundance and resources. Yes there are many things happening that might make it seem like this isn’t the case but when you compare what we are blessed with to many other situations around the world we are Blessed.  This week, here in America, we are celebrating Thanksgiving and looking at all the things we have to be grateful for.

I will thank the Lord with all my heart. Psalm 111:1 NCV

When we take time out to give thanks for the blessings that we enjoy each day, we realize how much God has given us. When we are grateful for what we have and find joy in all that surrounds us it opens up the opportunity to receive.  When we are not grateful for what we already have then there is no reason to give us more.  I think the biggest lesson I have learned is that it doesn’t matter what our situation is, what matters is our attitude toward the situation.  When we can learn to be happy where we are then we can truly appreciate the journey.  Look around…most of us believe if we were just a little bit better looking, or had more money, or better behaved children, or a more loving spouse, or a better job, or ___________ you fill in the blank, then we would be happy.  Now look around at the people you know that have what you want…look closely and you’ll find some who are happy and some who are still miserable.  What’s the difference?  Some would be happy no matter what their situation because of their attitude.  They have chosen to be grateful for what they have and look at the bright side and minimize the rest; on the other hand the ones who are still seeking to find that next thing that will make them happy or satisfy them haven’t learned to look around and be grateful for where they are and all they have already been given.  For every person who is griping about their job their is another who is praying for one.  For every person who is griping about their spouse their is a widow/widower who is praying they just had one more day with theirs; or a single person who wishes they could find a spouse.  The next time you think I wish… or if I only… yes but…. look around and ask yourself what have I been given to be grateful for?  This Thanksgiving let’s be TRULY grateful for all that we have been given!

This is the day that the Lord has made;
    let us rejoice and be glad in it. 
Psalm 118:24

God Bless,

Nena

Advertisements

The Holidays: Be thankful!

Thanksgiving is one week away here in the U. S.  Many of us will be celebrating with friends and family.  It is a joyous occasion and a chance to reflect and be thankful for all we have.  We also need to acknowledge there are many people who do not have family of friends to celebrate with.  Perhaps they are miles away, are estranged or deceased.

Deuteronomy 15:11 ESV

For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’

There are many people that are homeless, in nursing homes, hospitals, have jobs that require them to work on Thanksgiving Day, children in foster care or orphanages.  Wouldn’t it be great if each one of us could contribute in some way to a person less fortunate than we are.  Perhaps something as simple as inviting someone to join your family for Thanksgiving dinner or taking a meal to someone who is home bound, visiting someone at a nursing home or hospital.  Some of us are going to feed the homeless at shelters, churches, etc.  If everyone who is fortunate enough to have family and friends to share the holiday with could contribute in some way to those who are less fortunate then no one would have to spend Thanksgiving alone and lonely.  If you don’t know how to help you can contact your local Salvation Army, churches, nursing home, hospital, battered woman’s shelter, etc.

Act 20:35 ESV

In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.

The best thing that happens when we reach out to others is the joy we get to witness in their eyes and the overwhelming feeling of love we feel ourselves from reaching out and helping someone in need.  I can think of no better way to show our gratitude and thankfulness than to help another!

1 John 4:7-8 ESV

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

God Bless,

Nena

The Holidays: Joyful for many but painful for some!

Many of us are anxiously awaiting the holidays and looking forward to festivities with family and friends. I love the holidays and remember when I was younger wanting to decorate everything even to the point of going over to my grandparents house and decorating for them.  Buying LOTS of lights and putting them on the tree, windows, above the curtains, you name it I did it!! My grandma loved lights and that was a huge part of Christmas going around and looking at lights on houses.   Yet for some it is a dreaded time of year or at the very least met with caution.

Many of us live in families where the holidays bring tension, stress, and anger.  Some of us live miles away from family and feel sadness during this time.  While still others don’t like the crowds, and congestion it brings.  It is important for everyone to be kind and understanding of the different emotions the Holidays stir up in people.  One of the issues is the expectation we all have of what the holiday should be like.

We visualize what OUR perfect holiday looks like and how we want to celebrate.  Then if it doesn’t happen just the way we feel it should, we feel hurt, frustrated, sad, mad, disappointed or any other range of emotions.  A few things to help alleviate this is to:

  1. Discuss with those around you what your vision is of the holiday.  The way you would like to celebrate and what you would like to do for the Holiday.
  2. Ask those you will be celebrating with what their vision looks like. How would they like to celebrate?  If it’s the same as yours great! From my experience though no two peoples’ vision looks exactly the same.
  3. If there are differences then discuss what your MOST important events are (for example: some people absolutely want to exchange presents Christmas Eve while others prefer Christmas morning) and the reason behind your preference.  Then come up with a plan that everyone can get excited about or at least agree on without resentment.  I find most of the time if it’s really important to one person and they understand the reasoning it’s easier to compromise.  You can even ask how important is it to you on a scale of 1-5?  If you are at a 4 and the other person is at a 5 then that would be a good point to let them decide.  But if you are at a 5 and they’re at a 3 then that would be a good point for you to decide.  It you both feel at a 5 then that’s where the compromise comes in…(example: the gift exchange.  If one person insists the packages must be opened Christmas eve and the other Christmas morning and both feel very strongly about their point of view; let the one that wants to do it Christmas Eve open theirs Christmas Eve and the one that insists on Christmas morning open theirs Christmas morning.  If it’s a difference of where to spend the Holiday…my family vs. your family and you live close perhaps you could do Christmas Eve with one and Christmas Day with the other family. If you don’t live close then perhaps you visit families on alternating years.)
  4. Make a plan as far in advance as possible.  Write it down and look it over.  Perhaps you need to sleep on it and have more discussion but make sure it’s a plan all parties involved can live with.
  5. After you’d agreed on the plan then discuss it with the other stakeholders involved such as friends and/or family members so they know what the plan is and there won’t be any surprises on the Holiday. Everyone with know what to expect.
  6. Plan fun! Games, especially old family games, are a great way to have fun and connect across generations.  Also, family pictures are a great way to share family history with children as well as those you don’t see as often.  It’s great to have everyone bring some family pictures or an album or two to share.  Some of my fondest memories of my childhood are playing moon (with dominoes) and listening to all the stories my grandpa, grandma and their siblings would tell at family gatherings.

The most important thing to remember is WHY we are celebrating the holiday in the first place; whether it’s Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, or New Year’s Day.  Our goal is to share the celebration with those we love and care about.  If it causes friction and turmoil then it is defeating the purpose.  Underneath every human being is a deep desire to love and be loved.  What if this was the year that everyone was able to love and be loved and experience the peace and joy of the season?  Let’s do it and lets have it begin with us!

God Bless,

Nena

The Holidays! Food, Family, Friends and Forgiveness?

It is hard to believe that Thanksgiving is just nine days away.  It seems like we just celebrated this New Year and now the year is almost over.  The holidays bring so much excitement and joy.  They can also be stressful.  So much to do; shopping, decorating, preparing food, some of us have to travel to see family, and some of us don’t have family or are estranged from our families.  This is something I am finding stressful this holiday season.

A couple of my family members aren’t speaking to one another; so now we are having to consider what to do for Thanksgiving and how to celebrate.  I love all of them and want to help them see that life is too short to be at each others throats, bickering and arguing.  Of course each one of them feels they are right and the other is wrong and this made me stop and think.  How many of us only worry about right and wrong? In our marriages, with our children, co workers, family members, friends, neighbors etc.  I have been pondering this and trying to develop some clarity with the situation and what I’ve come to understand is that we each have many life experiences that lead us to “see” situations from our own perspective.  Sometimes this makes it difficult for us to empathize with another.  We are so caught up in what has been done to us that we cannot see how the other person may view the same situation and how their feelings may have been hurt because of our actions.

What if for a minute we weren’t trying to defend our own viewpoint and we instead came together with the attitude of how can we work this out so that each of us feels valued and heard? When our goal is to be right that makes the other person wrong and insures that the situation isn’t going to get better because no one wants to be wrong.  When we perpetrate the injustice it goes on and on and there is no solution.

In my case it is a case of individuals that do not have much life experience and are young and inexperienced in certain situations so they feel insecure and lash out.  Then they refuse to see the other side objectively and hold on for dear life to their viewpoint.  It doesn’t really matter who’s right and wrong if it tears an entire family apart.  There was no murder committed, no alcohol or drugs involved, no physical violence, nothing but a couple of sentences over a piece of cake. Yes, that’s correct a piece of cake and it’s caused almost a year long rift.

It’s very difficult on the entire family when people are unwilling to forgive.  It causes more hurt feelings, anger, resentment, and things build and escalate making the entire situation more difficult for everyone.  Forgiveness isn’t for the other person it is for ourselves so that we can release it and let it go so it doesn’t become a cancer inside of us.

Even if that person wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, you must forgive.
Luke 17:3-5 (NLT)

For others out there that are having issues with family, friends, co workers, etc. during the holidays I pray you will find piece in knowing that you have a Heavenly father who loves you and sent His only son to Earth to live and die for your sins.  You are forgiven and loved by an almighty father.  I pray we can all find forgiveness in our hearts this Thanksgiving and be truly grateful and thankful for what we are so blessed to have in our lives.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

Nena