Three Things

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, I’m thinking on things I’m thankful for as I journey through my week.  That’s a bit contrary to what my normal bent is – I tend to want to focus on what’s wrong with my little world but I’m learning that a thankful heart opens doors to learning new and wonderful things about myself.  As Sarah Young says…”it takes the sting out of adversity”….and it “opens your heart to God’s presence and your mind to God’s thoughts.”   Now that’s the place I want to be.

I wasn’t brought up in a home that communicated thankfulness, or the importance of family or relationship. It was more focused on performance and success, so I had to learn those things by watching other positive examples in my life.  So to think on things I’m grateful for is something I have to practice intentionally now.  I’m not always great at it.  But just like the practice of occupying my mind with things to be thankful for helps my negative thoughts weaken and the positive to flow  more richly….the same goes for appreciating the people around my table this Thanksgiving.

My friend Sara is such a great encourager.  She is at least 20 years younger than me, completely opposite from me on the personality charts, has 2 small children and is always such a shining example to me of what a kind word can do for someone’s heart.  She once gave me a note that said “Three Things I Love About You” on it…and then she listed some lofty and sometimes undeserving words about me.   They were….

  1. You always make people feel welcome.  Just your smile and enthusiasm make people feel loved.      (OK…I’ll give her that)
  2. You are honest.  There is nothing about you that is false or fake.  You don’t try to be someone you are not.     (After a brief period of my life where most of it was a lie…I decided to try another route.  It’s not always what people love about me – what you see is what you get.)
  3. You really want to serve.  You seek ways to care for people and to engage with others.  It is not a surface “how can I make this easy for me ” attitude.  It is a “how can I extend myself for others” attitude.   (I’m not sure we’re talking about the same person, but I’ll take it!)

As I was maneuvering my way through motherhood I pride-fully thought that I was a pretty awesome mom when my kids were small.  It wasn’t until Sara told me that she tries to tell her kids every day three things that she loves about them that I thought…OUCH…gee, I could have done so much better.  God loves to shoot holes in my pride now and then.  Can you imagine how different our world would be if we all practiced telling our friends and family members three things we love about them every day?  Or even every week?  Even if we ‘d rather hammer them with the ugly stuff?  Now that’s grace.

Maybe as you sit around the table this Thanksgiving…along with passing the turkey and the giblets you might pass around a few positive thoughts by saying Three Things You Love about everyone around the table.  It’s the language of love, and everyone needs a scoopful of that on Thanksgiving.  Go ahead…give it a try – and let me know how it goes.

Borrowed breath

I woke up this morning with atrocious breath.  I personally call it “mung mouth”. You know…when your mouth has been wide open for nearly 7 hours – unless you’re menopausal which means you’ve only slept for like 4 hours – and drool has been sliding down the side of your cheek which is like an invitation for all sorts of creatures and germs to “come on in”…make yourself at home in my mouth.

I think about breath and I am grateful each day I wake up and have been given its generous gift – even if it starts out mungish.  Think about it.  Another day of breath. God breathes his breath into me daily – kind of like a loan to me – borrowed from Him. And I’m dependent upon him for it.  We tend to take it for granted – oh, I’ll wake up tomorrow as usual,…but tomorrow isn’t promised. It’s that same breath that he breathes into me that he breathed into Adam’s soul and gave him life.

I listened to a sermon recently where I heard that human beings are the only one that God breathed life into.  Not dogs, not elephants, not zebras, not cats, not crocodiles and certainly not ostriches. I still don’t get why God created ostriches – that’s one of the first conversations I’m gonna have with God when I get to Glory. And we humans are the only ones that have a choice in how we respond to God’s gift of breath.  It’s called free will.  And we sometimes do a sucky job at responding to the gift.

We’ve sort of messed things up in terms of caring for this world but one day the earth is going to be restored to its original state. I believe that every living organism is anxiously waiting for it’s designer to return and restore them to the way they were meant to be.  Rocks, trees, flowers, dirt. They praise him on a daily basis.  They don’t have a choice – it’s in their DNA and nature to return their breath back and honor the one who gave it to them.  It’s what they were created to do.  All for praise.  All to point back to their creator.

So if God’s breath gave Adam his soul and his breath gives me my soul, then it makes sense to me that it’s my responsibility to return that breath back to him to give him honor.  It’s in this exchange that I think I’ve discovered true life and how to become fully human.  It’s that place where my soul finds its ultimate purpose.  Just like the rocks and the trees it makes sense that that’s where the most sophisticated of His creations belong – pointing others back to him.  It’s why we were created – to praise him.

What does praise look like?  I think it’s when your insides (your soul) are blessing the Lord.  By being grateful. By being thankful for the breath that is within you – all that makes you YOU – be grateful and thankful and honor your creator.  That’s when I’m most at home and most healthy.

For me, I think praise is giving your gifts back to him.  Some folks put praise in a box and it has to look a certain way to be acceptable to them.  I think you praise Him with all your abilities. Your painting.  Your poetry.  Your air guitar. Your lawn mowing. You certainly praise Him with your voice in song.  Me…not so much.  I’m more of a “joyful noise” kinda gal., but I praise him when I’m singing in the car.  Or the shower.  I praise Him when I laugh.  I praise him when I cook.  When I blog.  I praise Him with my mouth when I speak to groups.  I like to say “when God gives you a big mouth you use it for Him“.   Praise is the way you “do life”.

When am I fully myself and fully human?  When I’m praising Him.  That’s when I feel the most at home.  When I am using the borrowed breath of God to praise him.  So what are you going to do with your borrowed breath?  Try it.  Go ahead – bless the Lord.  Bless the Lord with your job.  Bless the Lord with your vocabulary.  Bless the Lord with your time.  Bless the Lord by spending time with your kids.  Bless the Lord with your finances.  Bless the Lord by talking kinder.  Bless the Lord by saying “no” to some of those things that dirty your heart and mind.  Bless the Lord by saying “yes” to those things that will point others to their creator.  Bless the Lord with the grace you offer others.  This is why he made mankind.  I can tell I have so much work to do to be a better Lord blesser.

When was the last time your soul went home?  When your soul blessed the One who created it – who breathed life into it?

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!    Bless the Lord, O my soul!

Psalm 103:1-2

Did those words leap into your heart?  If so…then you’re healthy.  You’re home.  Isn’t that just so like grace – being given the highest office we can hold in God’s economy when we’re the least deserving?  That’s your assignment – go have fun with being a Lord blesser?