For God So Loved the World…John 3:16

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

I have made a few sacrifices in my life but nothing that I can brag was significant.

Even with my near-death experience, I am in awe of God’s ability to sacrifice his only begotten son. I cannot fathom how a being who is mortal or immortal could stand by and watch while the greatest eternal sacrifice was taking place.

I am so very thankful for the gift of everlasting life. It is one of my goals to never take it for granted. I hope that not only at Easter time, but every day that I live, that I find some way of expressing my gratitude for the incredible gift that has been given to me through Jesus Christ.

Today’s story reminds me a little of my experience with my granddaughter while she remained in PICU and under heavy sedation. I hope everyone will forgive me providing a story that pulled at my personal heart strings! Enjoy!:

An Easter Sunday Miracle

Sometimes a miracle doesn’t come in the form that we expect it to. Instead of a burning bush, we experience a gentle nudge. Or a quiet voice. Or, in the case of Ken Trush, a poke.

Back in 1997, Ken’s 12-year-old son, Daniel, suddenly collapsed on-court at a basketball game in his school’s gym. Doctors discovered five aneurysms in his brain, one of which had burst. He was in a coma for more than 30 days. Every night, Ken kept watch by Daniel’s bed at the hospital, hoping and praying for a miracle–some sign that he would wake up. But weeks passed and nothing happened. The doctors prepared Ken and his wife, Nancy, for the worst: Daniel might never come back.

Though all appeared hopeless, Ken refused to give up. And on Easter Sunday, he finally got the sign he’d so desperately prayed for…

Danny was still not showing any signs of life. It was coming up to Easter. I just had this feeling that Easter was going to be special. I kept thinking, This is the holiest of holy days. This is what our faith revolves around. What better day than Easter Sunday to see something? Any kind of sign.

I left the hospital for 9 o’clock Easter mass. I didn’t tell anyone my hopes. It felt like it was just between me and God. Nobody else knew. I went back to the hospital after church hoping to find a miracle. I was waiting, looking for a sign. But there was no sign.

Everyone in our family was going to celebrate Easter at the hospital with us. I was sitting in the chair with Nancy next to Danny’s bed. My brother-in-law Steve and sister-in-law Debbie came to visit. We didn’t have enough chairs in the room, so I sat at the foot of the bed by Danny. At that point, no miracle had happened and I was starting to feel like nothing would.

And then, all of a sudden, I got this little poke… from Danny. I turned around, looked at him and said something a little outrageous for me: “Did you just kick me in the butt?” Danny gave the faintest of smiles. Everyone saw it. Nancy, Debbie and Steve. We all saw it.

Danny has always had a really good sense of humor. He was still in a coma, but that little poke was a sign that Danny was still in there. The doctors said it was impossible, that the smile was just reflexes. That Danny was too deep in a coma. But I knew my prayers were answered. I knew what I saw. And I knew that smile–a reassuring, “I’m here.”

It was the most beautiful Easter. And two weeks later, against all the doctors’ predictions, Danny woke up.

Story shared from the following website: https://www.guideposts.org/better-living/health-and-wellness/healing/an-easter-sunday-miracle

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Thankfulness vs Gratitude…

Thankfulness is measured by the number of words. Gratitude is measured by the nature of our actions.  David O. McKayWe understand that the human experience is filled with emotions. Emotions are the spice that give the cake flavor.

What we don’t always understand is the power of our emotions for both good and bad.

I often see the powerful effect of emotions. As a result of those experiences, I believe that our emotions may be the single most important factor in regards to our health.

There are two things that I believe can redeem our health (all areas) more dramatically than anything else: The emotion of Gratitude and the Act of Forgiveness.

When we read in the scriptures about becoming as a small child, I think of Gratitude and Forgiveness. A small child is naturally grateful and naturally forgiving. As we grow into adulthood those tendencies often become less and less automatic. Often, the gift of gratitude and forgiving must be cultivated deliberately.

Take some time to reflect today. If all areas of your health were dependent on your ability to have gratitude and to give forgiveness, how well can you realistically expect to be? Do you feel good about where you are or do you need to do some work? (I always need to do some work but that’s okay as long as I keep working at it!)

I share today’s story because even though it does not directly address forgiving or thankfulness – underlying the story I believe is a complete foundation of thankfulness and gratitude! I hope you enjoy!:

Thanks For Taking Care of Me

— Author Unknown

Like most elementary schools, it was typical to have a parade of students in and out of the health clinic throughout the day. We dispensed ice for bumps and bruises, Band-Aids for cuts, and liberal doses of sympathy and hugs. As principal, my office was right next door to the clinic, so I often dropped in to lend a hand and help out with the hugs. I knew that for some kids, mine might be the only one they got all day.

One morning I was putting a Band-Aid on a little girl’s scraped knee. Her blonde hair was matted, and I noticed that she was shivering in her thin little sleeveless blouse. I found her a warm sweatshirt and helped her pull it on. “Thanks for taking care of me,” she whispered as she climbed into my lap and snuggled up against me.

It wasn’t long after that when I ran across an unfamiliar lump under my arm. Cancer, an aggressively spreading kind, had already invaded thirteen of my lymph nodes. I pondered whether or not to tell the students about my diagnosis. The word breast seemed so hard to say out loud to them, and the word cancer seemed so frightening.

When it became evident that the children were going to find out one way or another, either the straight scoop from me or possibly a garbled version from someone else, I decided to tell them myself. It wasn’t easy to get the words out, but the empathy and concern I saw in their faces as I explained it to them told me I had made the right decision. When I gave them a chance to ask questions, they mostly wanted to know how they could help. I told them that what I would like best would be their letters, pictures and prayers.

I stood by the gym door as the children solemnly filed out. My little blonde friend darted out of line and threw herself into my arms. Then she stepped back to look up into my face. “Don’t be afraid, Dr. Perry,” she said earnestly, “I know you’ll be back because now it’s our turn to take care of you.”

No one could have ever done a better job. The kids sent me off to my first chemotherapy session with a hilarious book of nausea remedies that they had written. A video of every class in the school singing get-well songs accompanied me to the next chemotherapy appointment. By the third visit, the nurses were waiting at the door to find out what I would bring next. It was a delicate music box that played “I Will Always Love You.”

Even when I went into isolation at the hospital for a bone marrow transplant, the letters and pictures kept coming until they covered every wall of my room.

Then the kids traced their hands onto colored paper, cut them out and glued them together to make a freestanding rainbow of helping hands. “I feel like I’ve stepped into Disneyland every time I walk into this room,” my doctor laughed. That was even before the six-foot apple blossom tree arrived adorned with messages written on paper apples from the students and teachers. What healing comfort I found in being surrounded by these tokens of their caring.

At long last I was well enough to return to work. As I headed up the road to the school, I was suddenly overcome by doubts. What if the kids have forgotten all about me? I wondered, What if they don’t want a skinny bald principal? What if I caught sight of the school marquee as I rounded the bend. “Welcome Back, Dr. Perry,” it read. As I drew closer, everywhere I looked were pink ribbons – ribbons in the windows, tied on the doorknobs, even up in the trees. The children and staff wore pink ribbons, too.

My blonde buddy was first in line to greet me. “You’re back, Dr. Perry, you’re back!” she called. “See, I told you we’d take care of you!”

As I hugged her tight, in the back of my mind I faintly heard my music box playing… “I will always love you.”

Story shared from the following website: http://www.inspire21.com/stories/truestories/thanksfortakingcareofme

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God’s Gifts

God's gifts put man's best dreams to shame. Elizabeth Barrett Browning

I love sharing inspirational quotes through memes! I also love sharing the thoughts and stories of others. Even if I had never had a near-death experience, there is so much that testifies to me of God’s love for each of us!

My personal life experiences alone have shown me on a daily basis that I am incredibly blessed. My life is abundantly filled with evidence of God’s love for me and my family!

I have to admit that most days, even with the awareness of my blessings that I have, I know that there are blessings and gifts that I have received that are going unnoticed and unacknowledged. I miss out on way too many sunrises and sunsets and my exchanges with others are too often handled by a woman that is too inclined to let commitments and responsibilities drown out my ability to be sensitive to the needs of others.

Yet, I am grateful and as I carry on in this business of life, it is my hope and prayer that I will be better and better at the things that really count – the things that God has given me.

I hope that you are able to recognize, enjoy and use the gifts and blessings that God gives daily to you!

I hope you enjoy today’s story!:

Every Good and Perfect Gift

Do you like to receive gifts? According to Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell, authors of The 5 Love Languages,  receiving gifts is one of the ways some people best express and receive love.

What comes to mind when you think of “the best gifts ever?” For some the answer might be jewelry. For others technological gadgets, new tools. It has been said that “the best things in life are free.” If you agree you might think of a quiet walk in the park, watching a beautiful sunset, spending time with someone you love, or watching a child in a moment of discovery.

Certainly, forgiveness and life itself would be included in your list of ‘best’ gifts. But how do we achieve these? Your world view will lead you to one of two conclusions: “best gifts” either result from our own efforts and deeds or they come as a gift of love from God. Sometimes we receive these gifts and sometimes it seems we are oblivious to them.

There is a fable of a man who died and went to heaven. Upon arrival he was given a welcome tour where he was shown many great mansions and wonders. Coming to one building with no windows, he asked to go in but was encouraged and his guide to not pay any attention to it. The man insisted on seeing it and once inside he discovered a huge trove of beautifully wrapped presents. Looking closer he saw that each one had a tag with his name on it. Asking why they were here, the man was told, “These are the blessings you were freely given in life, but never received; they are gifts you never opened and so never enjoyed.”

God describes His very best gifts in the love letter He wrote to us, the Bible. When we receive and open these we discover forgiveness, eternal life, love, peace, joy, and hope. We receive undeserved grace and mercy, compassion. We are filled with strength, wisdom, and courage. When we enjoy His gifts we are embodied with goodness, faith, perseverance, contentment, and the character of the living God. We don’t earn these by our own doing. They are free gifts from a loving God who knows the true desires of our heart and longs to graciously give them to us.

It’s true. The best things in life are free: good and perfect gifts from our Heavenly Father – love, life, laughter, friendship, forgiveness, freedom, and so much more. Receive and open the gifts He freely offers you today and every day. Live thankfully and share them with others and discover yet another great gift, the joy of living.

Every good and perfect gift is from above.  James 1:17

by Bryan Thaye.
Story shared from the following website: http://www.golightourworld.org/every-good-and-perfect-gift/

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Are You Thankful for Your Thorns?…Dealing with Adversity

rose bushes profile-girl-rose-young-girl-50998With Thanksgiving quick approaching, the last thing you may have on your mind is thorns. However, life is full of thorns and it is important to be thankful – even for some of the thorns! In that spirit, I share today’s story:

Sandra felt as low as the heels of her Birkenstocks as she pushed against a November gust and the florist shop door. Her life had been easy, like a spring breeze. Then, in the fourth month of her second pregnancy, a minor automobile accident stole her ease. During this Thanksgiving week, she would have delivered a son. She grieved over her loss. As if that weren’t enough, her husband’s company threatened a transfer. Then her sister, whose holiday visit she coveted, called saying she could not come. What’s worse, Sandra’s friend infuriated her by suggesting her grief was a God-given path to maturity that would allow her to empathize with others who suffer. “Had she lost a child? No – she has no idea what I’m feeling,” Sandra shuddered. Thanksgiving? “Thankful for what?” she wondered. For a careless driver whose truck was hardly scratched when he rear-ended her? For an airbag that saved her life but took that of her child?

“Good afternoon, can I help you?” The flower shop clerk’s approach startled her. “Sorry,” said Jenny, “I just didn’t want you to think I was ignoring you.” “I . . . . I need an arrangement.” “For Thanksgiving?” Sandra nodded. “Do you want beautiful but ordinary, or would you like to challenge the day with a customer favorite I call the ‘Thanksgiving Special’?” Jenny saw Sandra’s curiosity and continued. “I’m convinced that flowers tell stories, that each arrangement insinuates a particular feeling. Are you looking for something that conveys gratitude this Thanksgiving?” “Not exactly!” Sandra blurted. “Sorry, but in the last five months, everything that could go wrong has.”

Sandra regretted her outburst but was surprised when Jenny said, “I have the perfect arrangement for you.” The door’s small bell suddenly rang. “Barbara, hi!” Jenny said. She politely excused herself from Sandra and walked toward a small workroom. She quickly reappeared carrying a massive arrangement of green bows, and long-stemmed thorny roses. Only, the ends of the rose stems were neatly snipped, no flowers. “Want this in a box?” Jenny asked. Sandra watched for Barbara’s response. Was this a joke? Who would want rose stems and no flowers! She waited for laughter, for someone to notice the absence of flowers atop the thorny stems, but neither woman did. “Yes, please. It’s exquisite.” said Barbara. “You’d think after three years of getting the special, I’d not be so moved by its significance, but it’s happening again. My family will love this one. Thanks.”

Sandra stared. “Why so normal a conversation about so strange an arrangement?” she wondered. “Ah,” said Sandra, pointing. “That lady just left with, ah . . . ” “Yes?” “Well, she had no flowers!” “Yep. That’s the Special. I call it the “Thanksgiving Thorns Bouquet.” “But, why do people pay for that?” In spite of herself she chuckled. “Do you really want to know?” “I couldn’t leave this shop without knowing. I’d think about nothing else!” “That might be good,” said Jenny.

“Well,” she continued, “Barbara came into the shop three years ago feeling very much like you feel today. She thought she had very little to be thankful for. She had lost her father to cancer, the family business was failing, her son was into drugs, and she faced major surgery.” “Ouch!” said Sandra. “That same year, I lost my husband. I assumed complete responsibility for the shop and for the first time, spent the holidays alone. I had no children, no husband, no family nearby, and too great a debt to allow any travel.” “What did you do?” “I learned to be thankful for thorns.” Sandra’s eyebrows lifted. “Thorns?”

“I’m a Christian, Sandra. I’ve always thanked God for good things in life and I never thought to ask Him why good things happened to me. But, when bad stuff hit, did I ever ask! It took time to learn that dark times are important. I always enjoyed the flowers of life but it took thorns to show me the beauty of God’s comfort. You know, the Bible says that God comforts us when we’re afflicted and from His consolation we learn to comfort others.” Sandra gasped. “A friend read that passage to me and I was furious! I guess the truth is, I don’t want comfort. I’ve lost a baby and I’m angry with God.” She started to ask Jenny to “go on” when the door’s bell diverted their attention.

“Hey, Phil!” shouted Jenny as a balding, rotund man entered the shop. She softly touched Sandra’s arm and moved to welcome him. He tucked her under his side for a warm hug. “I’m here for twelve thorny long-stemmed stems!” Phil laughed, heartily. “I figured as much,” said Jenny. “I’ve got them ready.” She lifted a tissue-wrapped arrangement from the refrigerated cabinet. “Beautiful,” said Phil. “My wife will love them.” Sandra could not resist asking, “These are for your wife?” Phil saw that Sandra’s curiosity matched his when he first heard of a Thorn Bouquet. “Do you mind me asking, Why thorns?” “In fact, I’m glad you asked,” He said. “Four years ago my wife and I nearly divorced. After forty years, we were in a real mess, but we slogged through, problem by rotten problem. We rescued our marriage – our love, really. Last year, at Thanksgiving, I stopped in here for flowers. I must have mentioned surviving a tough process because Jenny told me that for a long time she kept a vase of rose stems — stems! — As a reminder of what she learned from ‘thorny’ times. That was good enough for me. I took home stems. My wife and I decided to label each one for a specific thorny situation and give thanks for what the problem taught us. I’m pretty sure this stem review is becoming a tradition.” Phil paid Jenny, thanked her again and as he left, said to Sandra, “I highly recommend the Special!”

“I don’t know if I can be thankful for the thorns in my life, ” Sandra said to Jenny. “Well, my experience says that thorns make roses more precious. We treasure God’s providential care more during trouble than at any other time. Remember, Sandra, Jesus wore a crown of thorns so that we might know His love. Do not resent thorns.” Tears rolled down Sandra’s cheeks. For the first time since the accident, she loosened her grip on resentment. “I’ll take twelve long-stemmed thorns, please.” “I hoped you would, ” Jenny said. “I’ll have them ready in a minute. Then, every time you see them, remember to appreciate both the good and hard times. We grow through both.” “Thank you. What do I owe you?” “Nothing. Nothing but a pledge to work toward healing your heart. The first year’s arrangement is always on me.”

Jenny handed a card to Sandra. “I’ll attach a card like this to your arrangement but maybe you’d like to read it first. Go ahead, read it.” My God, I have never thanked Thee for my thorn! I have thanked Thee a thousand times for my roses, but never once for my thorn. Teach me the glory of the cross I bear, teach me the value of my thorns. Show me that I have climbed to Thee by the path of pain. Show me that my tears have made my rainbow.

-Author Unknown

Story shared from the following website: http://www.heavensinspirations.com/thankful-for-thorns.html

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The World Has Enough Beautiful Mountains…Be Grateful!

the-world-has-enough-beautiful-mountains-beautiful-1694880Does your world have enough beautiful mountains? Does it have enough to make your happy? Are you grateful for what you have?

Do you look for your blessings? As you look at today’s meme, can you see the beautiful mountains that are depicted on the woman’s face? Or, without looking closely, did you assume you were seeing a five o’clock shadow?

As we enter the holiday season – I like to think that Thanksgiving is a fitting beginning of our celebration because it starts the festivities with being Thankful and having Gratitude. Recognizing our blessings is a huge component of finding happiness in life.

If your wealth was determined by the amount of time, love and energy you shared with others, how wealthy would you be? If your happiness was dependent on your ability to recognize your blessings – would you be happy?

In reality, our eternal wealth is dependent on the amount of time, love and energy we share with others and our happiness is directly connected to our ability to recognize our blessings and be grateful.

Today, I want to share a portion of a post from the Billy Graham Evangelical Association. I think it provides some good food for thought 🙂 !

Are you thankful no matter what? Perhaps you have lost your job recently, as the economy has continued to struggle. Or you may have lost your health, or a loved one. Such circumstances can be tremendously difficult. But even so, we all have much to be thankful for. Look with me at the story of a man who had every right to be bitter—but wasn’t.

The next footsteps in the corridor, he knew, might be those of the guards taking him away to his execution. His only bed was the hard, cold stone floor of the dank, cramped prison cell. Not an hour passed when he was free from the constant irritation of the chains and the pain of the iron manacles cutting into his wrists and legs.

Separated from friends, unjustly accused, brutally treated—if ever a person had a right to complain, it was this man, languishing almost forgotten in a harsh Roman prison. But instead of complaints, his lips rang with words of praise and thanksgiving!

The man was the Apostle Paul—a man who had learned the meaning of true thanksgiving, even in the midst of great adversity. Earlier, when he had been imprisoned in Rome, Paul wrote, “Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:19-20, NIV).

Think of it: Always giving thanks for everything—no matter the circumstances! Thanksgiving for the Apostle Paul was not a once-a-year celebration, but a daily reality that changed his life and made him a joyful person in every situation.

Thanksgiving—the giving of thanks—to God for all His blessings should be one of the most distinctive marks of the believer in Jesus Christ. We must not allow a spirit of ingratitude to harden our heart and chill our relationship with God and with others.

Nothing turns us into bitter, selfish, dissatisfied people more quickly than an ungrateful heart. And nothing will do more to restore contentment and the joy of our salvation than a true spirit of thankfulness.

In the ancient world, leprosy was a terrible disease. It hopelessly disfigured those who had it, and it permanently cut them off from normal society. Without exception, every leper yearned for one thing: To be healed.

One day 10 lepers approached Jesus outside a village, loudly pleading with Him to heal them. In an instant He restored them all to perfect health—but only one came back and thanked Him. All the rest left without a word of thanks, their minds preoccupied only with themselves, gripped with a spirit of ingratitude.

Today, too, ingratitude and thanklessness are far too common. Children forget to thank their parents for all that they do. Common courtesy is scorned. We take for granted the ways that others help us. Above all, we fail to thank God for His blessings.

Ingratitude is a sin, just as surely as is lying or stealing or immorality or any other sin condemned by the Bible. One of the Bible’s indictments against rebellious humanity is that “although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him” (Romans 1:21, NIV). An ungrateful heart is a heart that is cold toward God and indifferent to His mercy and love. It is a heart that has forgotten how dependent we are on God for everything.

From one end of the Bible to the other, we are commanded to be thankful. In fact, thankfulness is the natural out-flowing of a heart that is attuned to God. The psalmist declared, “Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving” (Psalm 147:7, NIV). Paul wrote, “Be thankful” (Colossians 3:15, NIV). A spirit of thanksgiving is always the mark of a joyous Christian.

Why should we be thankful? Because God has blessed us, and we should be thankful for each blessing.

Post is shared from: https://billygraham.org/story/how-to-be-thankful-in-all-things/.

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