Burnt Cookies

I am having one of those days – burning, aching body, mind-numbing fatigue, frustration. And then I burn the cookies!!

I have to say that it wasn’t really my fault. We have an older stove with a very temperamental oven thermostat. I even used a separate thermometer and reduced the baking time – but still ended up with “rubbed bronze finish” cookies or “hardtack” as my hubby will call them. Not only is this frustrating from the time and effort perspective but we really can’t afford to waste any food.

On top of my already feeling rough today, the burnt cookies were almost the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. But while I was indulging in a momentary pity party, I remembered the recent conversation I had with a pastor and his wife who were visiting from Zambia and I quickly realized that it is silly of me to “cry over spilled milk” or burnt cookies, as it were.

Pastor Daniel was filled with passion and joy as he shared the work that has been going on in his area of Zambia. As he told his story, I learned what life is like for most of the villagers that he works with. They do not have electricity and any cooking that is done, is done outside over a fire.  A lot of the food they have must be grown, cultivated and processed all by hand using crude hand tools. He shared a video of women threshing maize for the kernels and then pounding the kernels into flour, both back-breaking, mind-numbing chores.

These village women have good reason to complain about pain, fatigue and frustration, yet they rarely complain, rather, they are grateful for the ability to be able to feed their family anything at all. And I bet that they would even be grateful for burnt cookies!

I admire these women who make the best of what their life has to offer. I admire how thankful they are for any little blessing that comes along.

So, when I am having a “burnt cookie” day, I will remember these women and think about how blessed I am to have shelter, protection, warmth, an income, electricity, indoor plumbing with hot and cold running water, a loving husband, freedom, peace, food including ingredients to make cookies and yes – even an electric oven that burns cookies!

When you are having a “burnt cookie day” look for and focus on the blessings you have instead.

Selah

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Thanksgiving Checklist

In Canada, we are celebrating Thanksgiving this weekend. People will be busy travelling to visit loved ones and kitchens will be filled with the aroma of a wide variety of eatables being cooked for Thanksgiving dinner. There is a lot to do in getting ready for the feast.

Turkey – check

Stuffing – check

Mashed potatoes and gravy – check

Cranberry sauce – check

Turnip – oh do we really have to? All right then – check.

Pumpkin pie – check

Don’t forget the whipped cream! – check

And don’t forget to wear your “turkey pants” – you know, the ones with the elastic waistband so that you don’t have to unbutton and unzip your pants after you have pigged out!

But as you and your loved ones gather around the heavily laden table, I would urge you not to forget what should be the most important item on your checklist – and that is to thank God “from whom all blessings flow”.

Maybe you don’t have loved ones or a table full of food to enjoy. Maybe you are thinking that you don’t have much for which to be thankful. I can understand that feeling. Some of my days have felt so bad that all I could think of thanking God for at the end of the day was the fact that I actually survived another day.

During those difficult times, the times where I really couldn’t think of much to be thankful for, I decided to challenge myself by thinking outside the box. I decided to try and look at things from a different perspective. I decided that if I didn’t have the usual things to be thankful for, I would look for unusual things to be thankful for. Here are some of some of the things on my “thanking outside the box Thanksgiving checklist”:

1.Toilets –  I don’t like cleaning toilets, but in the middle of the night or if it’s raining, or winter, I am very thankful that I have an indoor flush toilet. I am so thankful that I don’t live someplace where raw sewage runs down the middle of the street in front of my house. Thank you God for indoor plumbing!

2. Toilet paper – Have you ever had to use a magazine page, piece of newspaper or even a leaf to wipe your nether regions? Or even worse, had nothing at all to hand? As an outdoor enthusiast, I have been in such “sticky” situations. When I’m at home, I am so thankful that I have toilet paper and that I don’t have to cut up the Sears Catalogue. Thank you God for toilet paper!

3. Dirty dishes – I hate washing dirty dishes more than I hate cleaning toilets! Dirty dishes are like rabbits – they keep on multiplying! No matter how many times you wash the dishes, if you turn your back – poof – more dirty dishes! BUT – I am so thankful that I have a wide variety of pots and pans to cook with and dishes from which to eat because I have seen that millions of people in the world literally don’t even have a pot to pee in and I have seen them using rusty tin cans and even leaves to try to scoop up what little food they have. And speaking of food, I am thankful that I have access to a wide variety of nutritious food that makes my dishes dirty. Thank you God for the food that makes my dishes dirty and for the dishes with which to cook and eat.

4. Cleaning the ring around the bathtub – there are times where I think that the Cat in the Hat must have been using our bath tub for the ring that sometimes decorates our tub! Being middle-aged, my aching back and knees don’t really appreciate having to kneel and bend over while I scrub the barnacles of the sides of the tub. BUT – those creaking knees and aching back sure do appreciate being able to relax in a nice hot bath that is bigger than a laundry basket and for which I did not have to chop and  split wood, light a fire, haul water from a creek or well, boil said water on stove and carry by the pail-full up to aforementioned basket-sized tub that sits in an unheated room! So, thank you God for indoor plumbing, hot running water, full-size bathtub and centrally heated bathroom.

5. Dirty laundry –  I live in an apartment and I don’t have a washer and dryer in my unit. Nor, does my building have an elevator so I have to carry heavy laundry baskets down and up (and down and up) 2 flights of stairs to get to the laundry room. So washing dirty clothes is not a favourite past-time of mine. BUT – I am thankful that I have a wide selection of nice clothes, appropriate for the weather conditions, with which to cover up this “middle-aged spread” of mine. And I am grateful that I don’t have to beat my clothes on a stone in a dirty river to try to wash them. Thank you God for the clothes on my back and the clothes in my closet and for electric washers and dryers.

6. Vacuuming – I have married the “crumbiest” guy I have ever known. I will never lose track of him, because wherever he sits or walks, he leaves a trail of crumbs behind! I also have a white cat who is doing her best to make us a fur rug in the living room. Whenever I grumble at having to haul around the vacuum, I remember that there are many people who only have a dirt floor to call their home. Thank you God for solid floors with warm carpets.

These are just a few examples of how I try to  “Continue in prayer and watch in it with thanksgiving,” Col 4:2

And if you find that you are in a difficult place in your life and feel that you might not have much to be thankful for, remember the following:

Php 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.

Col 3:15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which you also are called in one body, and be thankful.

I challenge you to thank outside the box this Thanksgiving.

I pray God’s mighty blessings upon you and your loved ones. Wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Rev 7:12  Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever. Amen.

 

Two Small Words

When I was a child, my mother taught me the “magic words” – “Please” and “Thank you”. When I became a mother, I taught those words to my own children. To this day, even though both my sons are grown men, I still receive positive comments from people regarding how polite my sons are. (I guess I did one thing right anyways – phew!)

As a parent, I did not want my children coming up to me and demanding things as if everything was their right to have. And if I did fulfill their requests, I certainly didn’t want them to walk away without them having given me some sort of acknowledgement and expression of gratitude, again, as if everything was their right to have and/or do.

To me, expressing gratitude shows that you acknowledge the effort and sometimes sacrifice that someone has put into helping you. As a parent, you may often feel that all your effort goes unnoticed and unappreciated. It took several years, in fact, both my sons were young men, before I received a wonderful, unexpected affirmation from one of my sons.

My youngest son is not overly communicative. And our relationship became very strained after the break up of my marriage. So it was a HUGE blessing to me when on two separate occasions, my son called me out of the blue to thank me for some of the things I had done for him when he was growing up.

His first call was inspired by the fact that he was eating left-over shepherd’s pie for lunch. He told me that as he was eating, he suddenly remembered all the times that I had prepared a tasty, hot lunch for him when he was in school. He had disliked being at school and he didn’t like eating sandwiches. So for him, being able to come home for lunch and knowing that I had something nice for him to eat, was a real blessing.

The second surprise call came after he had had to take a young fellow worker to the hospital after the young fellow had been injured in a workplace accident. As he sat there trying to comfort his bloody co-worker as they waited for a doctor, my son remembered all the times that I had held his hand in emergency rooms as he was being stitched up after one of his many (many!) accidents. He realized how stressful that must have been for me. So he called me up to thank me for having been there for him. (I hope you’re all saying “Awww – how sweet” right about now)

But seriously, who wants to do nice things for people who are never grateful? If we, as humans, feel that way, why would we think that our Heavenly Father feels any differently? As much as we may have given/give and have done/do for our loved ones and for others, we can NEVER outgive what God has done for us.

Joh 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Even though mankind has rejected (and continues to reject) God, He still loved us so much that he was willing to give His son over to death for our sakes. I mean, think about it, would you give up the life of one of your beloved children in order to save the life of someone else? Especially if that person wasn’t very nice?

And think about Jesus, who never sinned, yet paid the price of the death penalty for our sins. Would you die for people you didn’t know or who didn’t care about you?

Surely, the very least thing we can do is to say those two small words “Thank You” to God and Jesus for what they have done for us.

In Canada, this weekend is Thanksgiving. So take a moment out of your busy holiday schedule to say “Thank You” to your Heavenly Father and to your SAviour, Jesus. It will really bless them and I know that you will be blessed in return.

Rev 7:12 saying, Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever. Amen.

Blessings

Appreciation

I volunteer at an Adult Day Centre which operates day programs for Seniors with a variety of needs. One of the clients is a sweet little lady with advanced dementia. She has reverted to only speaking the language of her birth so we are unable to understand her and communication is a challenge. However, today she communicated something to me in a way that spoke louder than words.

After I placed her lunch plate in front of her, she smiled at me, grabbed my arm, bent down and kissed my arm. What a wonderful, eloquent expression of simple gratitude!

I believe that simple expressions of gratitude is what God wants from us –  not fancy words, not candles, not incense, not acts of sacrifice – just simple, heartfelt “Thank you Father”.

Psa 100:4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise; be thankful to Him, and bless His name.

Amen