Sometimes when changing out a purse I leave some things behind thinking I will use it again in a few weeks. Months later I find the gooey cough drops, old toothpicks, gum wrappers and dry ink pens. But on occasion there is a little wad of money, a hidden treasure. It reminds me of my early-married years searching through coat pockets, chair cushions, drawers and yes-even purses, hoping to find a little more gas or grocery money. The search was serious, not just a childish game searching for a dollar to get a treat in the grocery line.
In times of stress or despair, I often loose my tenacity to look around at what is already mine. I become laser focused on what I don’t have and what I think I need. It is easy to miss the blessings hidden in unlikely places. As I choose to search for all the good there is to thank God for, I am overwhelmed by His goodness.
This week, my thanksgiving is for friends. In the busy of life, precious friends can get lost in the bottom of the bag. But one quick text brings back a flood of memories. Memories of raising our families together, planning ministry retreats, shopping and decorating, celebrating and grieving, laughing and crying. A “Selah” arises within calling me to “pause in His presence” and say thank you. The memories aren’t intended to drag me into the past, but to pause, remember and give thanks.
There are so many wonderful people who have been a part of my life. As the leader of a growing women’s ministry, there is never enough time to sit and drink coffee face to face like I would love. But with each sip in the quiet of my den, I pause and thank God for precious ones that have invested in me. I carry the mark of hundreds of people who one stroke at a time have etched love, joy, grace and acceptance on the pages of my life.
It is our nature to want to return to what was once so good.
Memories or regrets will pull on our heartstrings to move us backward instead of forward. Life moves us forward to the next chapter, but entanglement happens when we dig in our heels to live in the memory of yesterday. When reading a book you don’t rip out the finished chapter in order to read the next. No, you move forward with the previous being a major part of the present. Each chapter may introduce new characters, but it doesn’t diminish the beauty and effect the previous had my life.
So for this week, I am intentionally thanking God for those who have written beautiful things on my life story. You may have been a one-time experience, or you may have written a page or even a chapter. You may have been in my life for many chapters, but whether momentary or lingering, I praise God for you.
As I type the words I remember one day, one conversation, one encounter with a speaker that moved me forward. She gave me hope that God could use my devastating story if I would let him. I still remember her name, her face, even her scent, but I have never seen her again. She made a forever impact on my life and therefore a mark on the Kingdom of God.
And then there is the one friend that painted my bathroom and asked that unforgettable question.
“Where is that legal pad that you say you are writing all your ideas on about this ministry you think God is calling you to start? Go get it!”
And in that moment the pregnancy and birthing of “Touching Hearts” ministry began. (Click here for more information.) That one woman has been in my life for enormous chapters. There is a story written of long lasting friendship that goes the extra mile and gives generously with no strings attached. She continues to be a Barnabas forever encouraging me. Some of our chapters have been shocking and painful, and yet God had a plan He was working in both of our stories.
And then there are some lonely short chapters that have only one main character. GOD. He shifts things slightly and there is no one up close but Him. There is no room for anyone because He has something very intimate and personal to write on that page of life. It is in these chapters that our love and trust go deep, preparing us for the coming days. I find that in these times it is easy to feel guilty that I have left close friends in the bottom of the bag, but the truth is they are not lost or forgotten, but just not in this present chapter.
May I encourage you as I do myself today?
Live in your present chapter.
Fully embrace today so as to not miss the treasure of the moment. God is writing your story and you can trust Him. He graciously uses people to be His hands and feet to accomplish His good work in our hearts. Together, let’s pause, remember and give thanks for all who have touched our lives. Let’s live with arms open wide to receive who and what God places in our story.
“Lord, I am blessed by the many wonderful people and the numerous ways you have touched my heart. Today I pause to say thank you for every one of them.”