Harder Family

Harder Family

Friday, October 23, 2015

Lessons in Being Thankful

Psalm 100:1-5 "A Psalm for giving thanks. Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into His presence with singing! Know that the Lord, He is God! It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise! Give thanks to Him; bless His name! For the Lord is good; His steadfast love endures forever, and His faithfulness to all generations."

Thankfulness is defined in the dictionary as feeling or expressing gratitude. I think there are many times that I think I am thankful, but when I take a hard look at my life, I know that I have room for improvement. It is too easy to see things around me that I "need" and get caught up in the consumerism nature of our society. Do I really need more boots, cuter jeans, the newest phone, more books, organic snacks, etc. I am so blessed and I take it for granted too many times. I am constantly reminding my kids about how blessed we are and yet my actions, thoughts, and desires show that I am not always content. This is something I've been asking God to help me with over the next few months. 

I've decided that I am going to post daily in November. I will list at least two things I am thankful for every day. I think this is important to do every day, but in the month of November leading up to THANKSgiving Day, I think it is especially important. I want to have my head in the right place, heading into Christmas. I think it is ironic that we have a day of thanks and the very next day we act as though everything we were thankful for the day before is not enough (Black Friday?). 

I think many times the activities I do with the girls, to teach them more about God and others, is really for me. I need a daily reminder of all that God has done for me and how blessed I am. Recently I have been trying to exercise and eat healthy since I gained some weight during Wayne's hospitalization/recovery time. I wasn't able to exercise and people brought us wonderful treats that were too delicious to pass up. Anyway, at times I have gotten too caught up in my looks and weight. Instead of being thankful to God that I am healthy and can walk/run, I am worried about my jeans being a little too tight or not looking as good as the super models staring at me in the grocery store. God used yesterday to remind me of what is important in life and how blessed I am. My friend Sue and I took the kids downtown for an outreach day for school. We made lunches and hopped on the train for downtown Chicago where we found some homeless people to pass out our lunches. My heart was really in the right place in wanting to help others, but, if I'm honest, I learned more from the people we were handing out the lunches to yesterday then I think they benefited from our lunch. The look of joy in their faces when we handed them the lunches was life changing and eye opening. You could tell that they are too accustomed to people just walking by and not "seeing" them. How many times have I walked past people and ignored them? How many times have I rejoiced as they did over lunch or a pair of socks? It is simple things that we take for granted. God forgive me for the times I have ignored the least of these or have taken for granted your abundant blessings in my life. God has called His people to care not only for the widows and orphans, but also for the poor. 

Isaiah 58:7 says, "Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?" 

Matthew 5:42 says, "Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you." 

Matthew 25:35-36, "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me...Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me." 

What ways can we all get involved in loving and caring for the poor around us? As a family, we have been trying to think of practical ways of helping people. Giving money is not usually the best solution, so what can we do? What if we carried granola bars or water in our car so that we can hand them out to someone as we get off the freeway and see someone panhandling? What about bringing a few lunches in our purse to handout when we go shopping or visit downtown? Volunteering at a food bank, donating food to a food bank, finding a family that is struggling and helping them out...the list goes on. This is something God is showing me. Do we really "need" all the things we purchase or can we cut back and use the money in a way that brings God more glory? I don't have the answers, they are things that I am working through in my life. We are working through "Counter Culture" by David Platt in our small group. Some of the things he brings up in the series makes you think. Sometimes it is good to take a hard look at your life and see if your priorities line up with God's priorities. I know for me personally, I need to do this frequently. It is my prayer that God uses everything, my life and finances, for His glory.

Ready to walk to the train

Lunches are packed!

Walking to the train.

Waiting for the train. We were worried that we would miss the train, so we left early to buy our tickets. The train ended up being 10 minutes late...so we waited for 30 minutes. Thankfully the kids did great waiting.

Walking downtown

Lunch break. We ate the same sandwiches we handed out, which was a good life lesson. We walked almost 3 miles yesterday. If you calculate the number of blocks we walked and the number of lunches we handed out (25), it works out to be about one homeless person per block, which is heart breaking. One of the situations that impacted the kids the most was a man digging in dumpsters for food. They were floored that someone would be digging in the garbage for food. We have so much to be thankful for every day! No one complained about the plain peanut butter sandwiches!!

Life lessons arise every day, for both me and the girls. This morning the girls watched a video with me on youtube. This sweet boy is blind and has autism. It was another great reminder, to all of us, of the many things we take for granted...walking, seeing, talking. This video always brings me to tears. 

May God open the eyes of our heart to not only know Him and serve Him, but to open our eyes to the world around us and for the things that break His heart. May we show the love of God to everyone around us!!

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