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Life as Thank You 55

Laureen,

In honor of your birthday last week and as a gift to one of my favorite gifts, I thought I would tell you how thankful I am for you.  We have been sisters now for over 36 years.  I am grateful for our relationship that has been an encouragement for most of my life.  Thank you for saving mementos of your family heritage and sharing them with me and the kids; thank you for studying and preserving the family tree for all of us.

I am grateful for your generosity, and for your thoughtfulness.  I feel I know your mom because of my relationship with you.

May God bless and keep you.  

I love you Laurie!

Your sister,

Miriam

The Best Gifts Ever

Recently, at a Christmas party, I was asked about the best gifts I have ever given and the best ones I have gotten.  I have been given more than my fair share over the years and since one of my love languages is gift giving, I had to think long and hard about this. I remember great and thoughtful gifts over the years and have many favorites!  As I have ruminated on it even more I have come to realize that the best gifts I have ever received are not things.  And, the best best gifts are all reflections of the best gift-giver – God! Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow James 1:17

All month I have been looking at the gifts the Bible talks about. They are not in any particular order and I cannot even list them all:

  • The gift of Salvation – Eph 2:8,9 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
  • The gift of Eternal Life – For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom 6:23 John 10:28
  • A Savior – John 3:16.For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
  • Living Water  – Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” John 4:10
  • The Gift of Grace – Eph. 4:7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.
  • Gifts of the Spirit- 1 Peter 4:10 As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
  • Gift of Sustenance & meeting my needs – Gen 9:3 Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant.
  • The Holy Spirit – If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?
  • Wisdom – But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. – James 1:5 
  • The Gift of encouragement – (through the Word) – The Lord GOD has given Me the tongue of disciples, That I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple. Is. 50:4
  • A New Heart – Ez. 11:19 – And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh //  Jer. 24:7 I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the LORD; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart. 
  • Rest! – Matt. 11:28 Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
  • A new name! (He knows me) – For thus says the LORD, “To the eunuchs who keep My sabbaths, And choose what pleases Me, And hold fast My covenant, To them I will give in My house and within My walls a memorial, And a name better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name which will not be cut off. Is 56:4,5,  Rev. 2:17
  • The Keys to the Kingdom/ Meaningful work/ trust – I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven Matt 16:19
  • Security – John 10:28  and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand
  • Peace – John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.
  • The Crown of Life  – Rev. 2:10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life
  • Power over the Evil One – Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you. Luke 10:19
  • Forgiveness – Acts 13:38  Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you 
  • Joy –  Neh. 12:43 And on that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy. The women and children also rejoiced. The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away
  • Abundant Life –  John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full
  • Righteousness – For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! Rom. 5:17
  • Hope – Jer. 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Col. 1:27 – Christ in you – the hope of Glory!
  • Heaven – Heb. 11:16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
  • The Word of God  –  Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Heb 13:7
  • Strength – Phil 4:13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength
  • Heart’s Desires – Ps. 37:4 Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
  • Relationships – Gen 2:18 The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.
  • Friendship – John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
  • Reconciliation – 2 Cor 5:18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation

We cannot outgive God.  We give because He gave. He gives only good things.  We need to open the gifts and use them; Paul told Timothy to kindle it afresh. Jesus said, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” (Luke 12:48). I am overwhelmed by this!

2 Corinthians 9:15 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it (Luke 17:33) The Parable of the Talents (Matt. 25:14-21)

Merry Christmas 2016

mohmem

 

Life as Thank You 54

Sarah Noelle.  It is your birthday this week!  And I wanted to tell you how grateful I am that you are my niece.  I am so proud of you; you are smart and talented and genuine. Even more than that I am grateful that you have chosen to lean into God every day and are beautiful inside and out as you joyfully reflect Him. Do you know how powerful you are? You are like a super-hero just waiting to reveal your true identity to the world. I pray every day that you will be brave and bold and that God will advance the Kingdom through you.

Thank you for being Emily’s friend.  I love that you 3 play together, hold each other accountable and really value time together. I hope you know how much I love you now and how much I will always love you. You have been so blessed to be born to the best parents I know and you are becoming so much like them. Please know thankful I am for you. You make me smile.  You bring me joy and hope.  I am a better person because of you Sarah.

May all your dreams come true and may God’s favor shine on you all the days of your life!

Aunt Miriam

 

ALL Things?!

All things are not good. It would be mockery to say that they are. The death of a child is not good. Cancer is not good, drug addiction is not good, war is not good, blasphemy is not good. Divorce is not good.

But the Bible says, “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” In the chemistry of the cross God takes things that, in and of themselves, are bad, and He puts them together, much as a chemist might take chemicals and mixes them to make a medicine that brings healing. Many of us have some salt with our meals. Table salt is made up of both sodium and chloride. By itself, sodium is a deadly poison, and so is chloride. Put them together, and you have table salt. Salt flavors food, and a certain amount of salt is necessary for health and life. We cannot live without some salt in our systems.

God can take things that are bad and put them in the crucible of His wisdom and love. He works all things together for good, and He gives us the glorious, wonderful promise that He will do so. In Romans 8:28 we can see how God works together to help us rise above our circumstances. Notice how the verse begins: “We know.”This is not conjecture, this is not happenstance, this is not perhaps, this is not maybe; this is ironclad certainty, rather than a vague concept.

Another thing I notice is the completeness of the promise: “We know that all things work together for good.”That’s a big promise, but it’s there, and it’s absolutely certain. God is a teacher who, by our standards, seems strange. He gives the test first, and then He gives the lesson. We learn through affliction. Think about all the terrible things that Joseph in the Bible experienced. As he looked back, he said something that is much like Romans 8:28: “As for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” God is not dead. He is alive and well. He’s not sick. He’s not worn out. He’s not even old. It is God who made this promise. He is the cause of it. That is grace!

Notice that this promise has a condition. What is the condition? “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God.” If you don’t love God, you can’t claim this promise. The one thing we can all do is love God. That above all other things pleases and honors Him. The first and great commandment is, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.”

What is the good that all things are working together for? To make us like Jesus. To be conformed to the image of His Son. There is no higher good than to be like the Lord Jesus Christ. The good is not to make us necessarily healthy or happy but to make us holy, to make us like Jesus. Our goal must be to be conformed to the image of God’s Son.Think about it! Nothing (divorce. death. nothing!!!!) can separate us from the love of God (Rom. 8:38,39) And one day, no matter what divorces, deaths or other losses we face we will be like Him!

Life as Thank You 53

Wil & Lorraine –

This year I made the commitment to write weekly thank you notes to let people know how grateful I am that they are in my life.  I decided to write to the 2 of you together, because almost everything comes out with your names hyphenated together.

I know the danger in writing a  note is that it can be so trite or too gushy or too generic.  Mine will probably be all of the above without intentionality. From best man (Wilfie) and best editor(Quiche)  to best friends and lifetime family; that is what happened with us.

Nearly every memory of raising my kids, nearly every holiday memory and more are attached to you.  Even most of my college years and my wedding have you in the pictures and the memories on my mind.  For my entire adult life, Wil, you have been one of Jim’s very best friends.  Thank you for your faithfulness. Thank you for the fun and thank you for being you!

I am grateful for the many hours we have shared in conversation, in the Word and playing together.  I feel like something magical happened at some point and we became family. Yes, the past few years since Jim and your moms went to heaven and our kids mysteriously became adults, we have not been able to be as active in our friendship.  Maybe it was too hard.  maybe it was necessary.  Maybe it was because of the miles and the time difference. I still feel like I could call you any time of day or night and talk to you about anything.

Thank you for your willingness to hold me accountable, your fortitude in holding me up in prayer, your genuine support in writing and ministry, and your absolute silliness.

I am still waiting for our trip to England together!

May God continue to guide you and grow you and grant you grace and wisdom for each day.

I love you both, Wil and Lorraine.

Thank you for making my life joyful.

Your Mee-um

 

Life as Thank You 52

Dear Bible Study/ Supper Club friends,

This year I am sending thank you notes to let people know how grateful I am for them.  How can I possibly thank you enough for a lifetime of accountability and friendship? I am so blessed by each of you and I am humbled to have had the opportunity to minister, along with Jim,  with and to your kids.

When I think of all the “one anothers”  in the New Testament, you all are the first faces that come to mind. I am blessed to be part of a community that does them well and then does them better with every passing day.  It is not meant to be a grocery list, but somehow it sort of looks like one.

  • Thank you for loving one another so well through thick and thin and over years.
  • Thank you for honoring each other (Rom 12:10), giving preference to each other, and living in harmony (Rom. 12:16)  even when it easier to defend a position or offer an opinion.
  • When you come together to eat, wait for each other (1 Cor. 11;33). Thank you.
  • Accept one another in spite of differences (Rom. 15:7) Thank you for your quirks and for allowing me mine.
  • Pray for one another. Thank you for the hugs and the prayers and for patiently and consistently walking alongside me for so many ups and downs. Thank you for greeting me with hugs. (1 Cor. 16:20)
  • Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. Thank you for making me laugh & for the comfort through tears.
  • Thank you for listening to me and patiently bearing with me in love (Eph 4:2)
  • Carry each other’s burdens (Gal. 6:2) Thank you for helping me with mine!
  • Instruct one another.  I love that we continue to grow in grace together as we study the Word.
  • Serve one another (Gal 5:13) This is you!
  • Forgive each other (Eph 4:32) I am so grateful.

May you continue to shine brightly for the Lord by your love for each other.

I love you and I thank God every time I think of you.

 

Always,

Mirm

Life as Thank You 51

dscn0257Dear Brian and Susan,

Sometimes I am overwhelmed by God’s grace and goodness in my life.  This is one of those moments as I reflect on you both and your role in my life.  I am working on increasing gratitude in my life and one of the ways I am doing so is writing old-fashioned notes to tell folks how much they mean to me.

This letter is hard to write, only because with so many things to say, I don’t know where to start and I know I will forget most of what I want to say. Having a good relationship with your cousins is something to cherish and work towards. Putting in the effort to spend time together is important, and completely worth it. The memories that I have made with you will last a lifetime, and I will never be able to thank you enough. I believe that God designed who was supposed to be in my family for a reason, and I wouldn’t wish to be related to anyone else. Brian, you are the closest in age to me and closest in my heart.

Thank you for your faith, your family and for your friendship.  Besides my siblings, cousins are usually the next category to us that we know the longest in life.  While many cousins are not close and don’t keep in touch, and we did not even grow up near one another,  we have a deep connection based on common faith and DNA. For many cousins, even with many of our first cousins, there is not a close relationship, but I want you to know that I would do anything for you and your family.  I am proud of you.  I am grateful you are my family. I love you.

May God always make his face shine on you and may you know His favor and blessings abundant.

PS Happy Birthday!

Psalm 22:3 God inhabits the praises of His people

Ps. 16:11 You make known to me the path of life: in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Prov. 118:24 The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.

Prov 17:22 A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

The opportunity of a lifetime is found in a grateful heart; it is the best way to draw close to God!  God actually lives the the place where we praise and thanksgiving ushers us into the very presence of God. Life is hard and is full of things that we don’t expect nor are we prepared to handle them.  We cannot predict the future but we can be ready to live fully and be prepared to thrive no matter what happens. How? By living today with joy and gratitude.  Why?  Because everything that will happen in my future shapes how I live today.  Think about it:  If I think I will need to survive after I retire then I need to set aside enough money now in light of that day!  I believe that eternity changes everything. The fact that we live after we die really should
profoundly influence how we live today!

Literally speaking, an Ebenezer is a “stone of help,” or a reminder of God’s Real, Holy Presence and Divine aid. Spiritually and theologically speaking, an Ebenezer can be nearly anything that reminds us of God’s presence and help: the Bible, the communion table, a cross, a picture, a fellow believer, a hymn – those things which serve as reminders of God’s love, God’s Real Presence, and God’s assistance are “Ebenezers.”

Each Thanksgiving I give thanks to God for the wonderful Ebenezers that God has given me in my life and ministry. On the altar of praise and remembrance this year, built with Ebenezer stones include:

  • Faithfulness
  • Thanks in Everything
  • Thanks for everything
  • provision
  • the Giver of good gifts
  • Amazing grace
  • lessons from lepers
  • today
  • blessings
  • lament
  • prayer
  • leap for joy
  • Jesus
  • as a habit
  • fulfilled plans
  • yielded hearts
  • forgiveness
  • God’s love
  • community
  • trials
  • treasures in heaven
  • eternal life
  • abundant life
  • God’s Word
  • promises
  • acceptance
  • mulligans
  • protection
  • peace
  • life

May each and every one of us always be blessed by the grace and peace of Jesus Christ through the Ebenezers that God has placed in our lives!

Col. 3:15  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful

Phil4:7 The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

I think the Bible points out that the best path to peace is prayer with thanksgiving.  We can come to God in prayer, but when we come with gratitude in every situation, whether hectic, discouraging or in the time before we see the results of our requests, we find inexplicable peace.  It lives on the other side of gratitude.  Jesus said that we can have his peace in the middle of tribulation because He has overcome the world. We can be overcome with worry and stress or we can be overwhelmed with thankfulness that God is in control.  He can be trusted.

Lord, please help me to pursue what makes for peace to honor the Prince of Peace.

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