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Who of you by grumbling?

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Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens.                                                                                                                       1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, MSG

“But I don’t want water. But I don’t want to do that. But I don’t like that. Ugh, that’s nasty.  But he never. She never. I want this. I want that.”

Grumbling. No rejoicing. All on a day I had planned just for them.  I don’t think the day went by with one single praise for anything He had done, or I had done, in fact.

It is on days like these that I would like to pack up my family. Move to some distant land. Let them see what “living” really is. Without internet. Without clean water. Without air conditioner, and the drive-thru of their choice.

There are days I need this reminder, too.

Because, quite honestly I have a lot of reasons to grumble. And on the days I find that maybe I grumble a little more, I also have many more to be thankful. Many more reasons to be grateful.

I’ll be missing one more person again this year during the holidays. While it seems I should be used to it at this point, it seems to be harder this time around. Maybe it’s my age. Maybe it’s because my little family is now a generation larger since I have become a MeeMaw and life has taken on new meaning.

I still find reasons to grumble. But the things that used to bug me, just don’t anymore. I also find the things that used to get under my skin, and make me angry don’t have the same effect on me as they once did.

I have not always been this way. I am a scream in traffic girl. A glass half-empty girl. A “I hate people” girl. Yes…there are days I don’t like people. I really don’t like to be around them. On those days, I just want to be alone, with a blanket, and a book.

And because I have to force myself to see life in that glass half-full perspective, I also have to force myself to count my blessings each day, not just during the Thanksgiving season. So I simply started keeping track of three small things for which I was grateful each day. And, while it may not have made me forget that there is something missing again this holiday season, it has done a few things. Forcing myself to be thankful has also forced me to think about all the things on a given day that don’t cause me to grumble. That make me happy. That bring me joy.

Those three things give me reason to praise God through the loneliness, thanking him for all the times He has placed someone in my path in those times of loneliness or defeat to breathe life into those empty places.

To praise God for all the times He did answer me, even when I thought he was not listening.

To stop rushing to work every morning, and actually stop and enjoy a morning sunrise. To enjoy the quiet, calm of an office before the morning buzz takes over.

To appreciate cute baby onesies picked up for the grandson. Or a new mug to enjoy my morning cup of coffee. To reflect on the conversations that have value and meaning, with the people that mean the most to me. To remember the times that I laughed with my kids, and the times they also did not complain and grumble through the day.

To relish the conversations that a 21 year old still wants to have with his mother. And the memories that an older sister has with her once again absent brother.

I can grumble over all the things that are wrong. I can complain over all the things that are bad. Continue to be sad over all the things that are not going as planned. I will always find something that will fit into one of those categories.

And, I will also always find something to bring me joy.

I just have to take the time to look for it.

Stop my grumbling. Change my perspective. Choose to be happy. Choose to be thankful.

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Posted by on November 21, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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A Boy, A Puppy, and His Image

Image

So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them. Genesis 1:27

“Can the image of God be found in an autistic child?” This is the question that was asked during a ministry class I took over the summer as I discussed some of the struggles we had as a family with our son, Hunter’s, diagnosis, and the many times we have stressed over locating his precious blue puppy. At first, my initial response was, “Of course!” But, I never really thought much more about the question, or what the question really meant in the context of autism or any disability.

First, I’ll admit it. Autism has broken me. It has pulled me and pushed me in ways I never could have imagined. It has tired me. It has beaten me, both literally and emotionally. And it has left me feeling alone in many ways, just yearning for someone out there to just “get it,” or to understand so I don’t have to feel so alone. So my child does not have to feel so alone.

But, as I think back on all the fear, the tears, the failures, and the triumphs-yes, I can’t help but see the likeness of God in the face of autism.

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.                                                                                                                                  Colossians 3:12-15

As those made in his image there are certain attitudes we possess as His followers. While the Bible and my walk with Him have taught me about many of these attitudes, seeing the world through an autistic little boy has shown me so much more.

You must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy and kindness. Colossians 3:12

Kindness and mercy-something I did not extend to parents in line at the store with “those” kids. You know, the kids who acted out, who screamed, who hit, who ran in circles. The kids who made me think, “Those parents need to learn how to discipline those kids.” It is funny how actually having one of “those” kids can teach you how to show mercy to other parents who are struggling with a tantrum over banana yogurt. How what used to be a look of condemnation is now replaced with a smile, and a look of compassion that tells that other weary and judged parent, “It’s OK. I get it. I have been there, too.”

Clothe yourselves with patience, make allowance for each others faults. Colossians 3:12-13

Autism has not only taught me how to be patient during a full-blown tantrum, as my child repeats the same phrase over and over multiple times, as we turn the car around to pick up a misplaced puppy once again for the fifteenth time, but it has also taught me how to be patient with others. With their faults. With their limitations. It has taught me that some of our battles are hidden from the world, and that we all must endure them. It’s taught me not to take the emotions and actions of others personally, and to forgive them since most of the time it’s never about me…in the same way I forgive the little boy who may have bruised me with his punches or kicks, utterly confused me with his lack of speech, or laid that poor, beaten puppy down one too many times.

Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. Colossians 3:14

Love. Unconditional love. If the image of autism has not taught me anything else it has taught me what true love really is. Its knowing that love is not simply a word that is spoken, but something that is expressed through actions. It’s knowing that when I don’t hear “I love you,” my son’s sleeping face as I rub his back to soothe him to sleep is enough. It’s loving despite abilities. Despite one’s faults. Despite one’s vast differences. Despite the fact that just like Hunter’s blue puppy, we are all torn, dirty, and ragged. It’s learning to love like Christ-without limits. Even if it’s not reciprocated. Even if it means getting hurt. Even if it means I have to give more of myself. So much more physically, emotionally, and mentally. It’s teaching others to love in this way as well.

And always be thankful. Colossians 3:15

And yes, one can be thankful in the midst of raising a child with autism, raising any child with a disability. I didn’t ask for this struggle, but I wouldn’t have it any other way,

The Bible taught me about the greatness and goodness of God, but an autistic little boy taught me just what all this really means.

Kindness, patience, love, and thankfulness. They are found in this journey called autism. They are found in the struggles we face, and in the triumphs we celebrate. They are found in the image of a beautiful little boy. One made in the image of God.

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2014 in Autism and Faith

 

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