Reposting Enough

I posted this post a few years ago, but I thought its message of thankfulness coming after Christmas was fairly timely now, so here it is again!

Here we go…

Christmas is coming earlier for our family this year. We’re going out to see my side of the family for Thanksgiving this year and because of that, we can’t afford to go out for Christmas, too. As a result, we’ll be exchanging gifts with family early while we’ll be with them.

My family, on both sides, have been doing Amazon Christmases for many years. We all expect each other to put a variety of items on our Amazon wish lists, and we each pick out what we want to buy each other from those lists. It makes Christmas gifting fairly fool-proof (except for when Amazon malfunctions and doesn’t take items off our lists when they are purchased–one year we had multiple duplicates). In addition, we all feel pretty good that we’ve gotten each other something desired. This is especially useful in a family that lives far from each other.

It even temporarily solves the problem of the children asking for toys they saw at the store or at a friend’s house. “You want that? Put it on your wish list! You might not get it, but someone might buy it for you at Christmas or on your birthday.” This satisfies them for the most part.

The problem comes when the children want me to add yet another item to their wish lists. This usually occurs after a trip to Target when we’ve ventured into the toy aisles to buy a gift for a birthday party. They don’t want me to wait until after lunch or anything else–they are desperate, to the point of tears, to add that item now. It brings out the selfish “I want” in them, and they actually think they will not be happy unless they get that coveted seventh Star Wars Lego set or the Tinker Bell that actually flies. I tell them, “Having that one more thing will not make you happy. In fact, soon after you get it, you’ll just want one more thing until you learn how to be thankful for what you do have.” It’s so obvious when I see it in them and easy for me to condemn them…until I see it in me.

The other day I was busy adding to my wish list (knowing all along that several gift givers may have already done their shopping). I like to have lots of items on the list so the gift givers have more choices and so I’ll be more likely to be surprised. However, all that adding of items started waking the greed I had seen in my children. Dissatisfaction for what I already had started creeping into my heart.

Enough.

Do I really believe Jesus is enough for me? Do I believe He has given me all I need? How about that He “has blessed us with every spiritual blessing” (Ephesians 1:3)? Are spiritual blessings are even enough for me?

Recently my pastor did a sermon on this topic. It included a video showing how we go through our lives, never feeling like it’s enough. Life lived without Jesus isn’t enough and will never fully feel that way, and I know Jesus is the answer to that.When I go about living life without a thought for Him, it never feels enough.

I know He is enough, and yet I let my heart be turned by inconsequentials like a curling iron that promises to turn out those beachy waves I’ve been seeing on girls’ hair in magazines. I would never say it aloud, but do I think in my heart that I would somehow be better or that I would be closer to enough, if I could get my hair or fashion just right? Sure, I love Jesus, but will I truly be happy if I don’t have a new pair of boots, too? Sure, I already have one beautiful pair of black boots, but what about that pretty dark natural brown color I’ve seen on boots on so many women? And a colorful new infinity scarf, and, and, and…

Is it that Jesus isn’t enough for me or that I want to be enough for myself? I don’t think this has completely taken over my heart yet, but if I’m not careful, I think it could. I don’t think the wish list in and of itself is wrong, but when I start feeling dissatisfied with what I have and who I am just because of items I don’t have, then I have a problem.

May I be satisfied instead with my God and with the multiple blessings He’s given me. I have a journal that I’m very slowly filling up with thanksgiving, as I was challenged to do by Ann Voskamp in her book One Thousand Gifts (there’s a book to put on your Amazon wish list if you haven’t already read it). It’s apt that Thanksgiving comes right before Christmas. As I face the temptation to turn the focus of Christmas to what I’m going to get, I plan to dig deep in thanksgiving and try to teach my children to do the same. Maybe it’s a good thing my family is having Thanksgiving and Christmas at the same time.

“Satisfy us in the morning with Your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days” (Psalm 90:14)

Making Thankfulness a Lifestyle: Guest Post by Andy Lee

Don’t miss a chance to win a free Journal the Word Bible! See how at the end of this post.

I met Andy Lee at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference the first year I went, in 2014. She may not even remember this encounter, as we meet many people at Blue Ridge, but we shared a breakfast table once or twice (with probably eight other people), and I was impressed even then by her humble, open, and upbeat personality. In 2016, at least three separate people told me I should meet up with her, so I made sure to track her down and ask her if she’d be willing to meet. She’s been so gracious to me ever since, giving me wisdom about my writing. I’m thankful for Bible study writers farther along in the journey willing to mentor me.

I’m glad she’s guest posting for me today. After you read her post here, I hope you’ll stop by her actual blog, called Daily GraceContinue reading

Grumbling over Luxuries

This happened today.

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I’ll spare you a picture of the ugliness underneath the lovely red wrapping. I was rushing to finish cutting the last slice of the cheese block for sandwiches because, as usual, I was running late. The very sharp, much loved Cutco knife I had received for Christmas slipped sideways through the cheese and almost took out a sizeable chunk of my finger. As it was, I needed six stitches and a tetanus shot.

After the chaos of figuring out what to do with the kids while I went to Urgent Care, the rest of the day wasn’t really a bad day, but I had one of those days where I go and go all day long from one place to another: my homeschool co-op, my work (where I realized I had forgotten to bring the book I needed to teach and that I had forgotten to change out of my jeans–I got the book but didn’t have time to change), the doctor’s office for Mr. C’s well visit, the ice cream store to soothe a distraught Mr. C over a Hep A shot, the library before I would be charged for overdue videos, my church for Wednesday night Bible study, then the grocery store for items for a sick kid. Food, water (my daily struggle), and the bathroom–you know, the basic needs–were largely neglected. By the time I was at the grocery store at 9pm, I wandered the aisles, not able to concentrate enough to find anything quickly.

When I got home, after grumbling while I put all the groceries away, I slammed my finger in the door. Yes, THAT finger. That was the straw that broke me down, and I burst out crying.

Then I remembered something my Vietnamese student had said when I explained about my finger earlier today. She said that in Vietnam nobody would ever go see a doctor to sew them up if they had cut their finger.

I was grumbling because my body had a little less food and water than usual. But I still had more food and clean water than many in the world do every day. I was tired from having gotten excellent health care for myself and my son, another major luxury. I was tired from picking up free educational books and videos for my kids, something homeschool moms in countries around the world would love to have. I was tired from studying the Word with like-minded godly women, an activity for which some women are imprisoned and even die in some countries today.  I was worn out looking through a staggering amount of food choices, a benefit I wouldn’t find in most places around the world.

If I had grown up in Vietnam and lived there when I slammed that finger in the door, instead of a throbbing finger, I would have fully reopened the wound with blood dripping profusely.

Yesterday, I was praising God in awe over all the prayer requests He had recently answered for me–healing my leg so I could run again, helping me find a great part-time job to help with our finances, providing a way for me to go to a writing conference I longed to attend, and giving me the courage to talk to an intimidating person about how I’m praying for him.

Today I’m back to grumbling?

No, I will not let Satan, my enemy, say about me what is said in Psalm 13:4: “ ‘I have overcome him,’ And my adversaries will rejoice when I am shaken.” No, I will instead say as David said in Psalm 13:5, “But I have trusted in [God’s] lovingkindness; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, Because He has dealt bountifully with me.”

And He has! Praise the Lord!