Things to be thankful for during Covid-19

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“Gratitude never comes from avoiding difficulty but from finding yourself sustained through it.” -Randy Alcorn from his book, 90 Days of God’s Goodness.

We’re probably all learning some important life lessons through being isolated in our homes with our families.  These are a few things I’ve taken for granted and have become especially thankful for the past few weeks.

  • Good health

What a blessing it is to be able to walk around outside and feel the breeze and sunshine! I’m thankful that this virus has happened in the springtime with warmer weather and more sunshine. (Also, our electricity and gas bills will be cheaper during this time with so many unemployed.)

  • Freedom

The privilege to be able to freely come and go is something I’ve taken for granted. Until recently I’ve never thought about what a blessing it is to be able to go to a store and just pick up some necessary items or browse around.

  • Fresh air

I’m thankful I can walk outside and not have to worry about the air I breathe.  I’ve enjoyed living in the country my whole life, but I’ve definitely taken fresh air for granted.

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  • A slower pace

I’m a list maker. I like staying busy and getting things done.  That can be a good thing, but it has its negatives too. My dad used to often say, “Gaye, will you please just sit down? You’re making me nervous the way you’re always zipping around.” Slowing down can be uncomfortable for me.  If I have too much time to think, I tend to become sad.  It’s easier to stay busy than to think about some past sins and mistakes, strained relationships, emotional pain, etc. But it’s been healthy for me to have extra down time to process and deal with my bad attitude, what angers me and why, and things I could or should have done better. Now, I can take steps to not repeat those things I regret.

  • Time for completing projects

Do you have projects you tend to keep pushing back because you aren’t motivated to do them?  I have! Well, I can’t use the excuse that I don’t have time now.  So I’ve cleaned out some closets and drawers, organized some messy places, painted, done some much needed yard work, and have sent more cards to people.

  • Friends

I’ve been particularly blessed to have reconnected with old friends during this time.  Some I haven’t heard from in quiet awhile have contacted me and I’ve tried to do the same. I’ve realized how much I’ve missed these people.  I believe God puts every person in our lives for a reason. He has used my friends to encourage me, to laugh and cry with me, to instruct and teach me, and to rebuke me over the years.  They make my life rich and are a gift from God.  God uses our relationships with others to mold us into the people He wants us to be.

  • Family

I didn’t think I could love my family any deeper.  I have found I can. I appreciate them more now than I ever have. I’m so thankful for the technology we have today to be able to communicate with our loved ones. We have cell phones, texting, zoom, Marco Polo, and facebook to just name a few.  What a blessing it is to be able to keep in touch! I think about how life was just 30 years ago.  Families didn’t have any of these ways of communicating.

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My and Scott’s wedding day when the Hammersley and Hughes families joined forces. 🙂 9-1-18

For most people it’s easy to put on your happy face, and be kind and friendly to those we see outside our homes. But we can’t hide who we are from those living with us.  They know all the good, the bad, and the ugly. With this shelter-in-place we’re stuck with each other all day, every day whether we like it or not.  Fortunately, I’m married to the best man on the planet so I’m enjoying having him around, but I realize that isn’t the case with everyone.  Family relationships can get strained quickly when life is stressful, we’re dealing with disappointment, and worse yet, the whole world seems chaotic and suffering abounds. All while the very things that often encourage us: family, friends, worshiping together in church, vacations, going out to eat, etc. have been stripped away.  It’s in these moments we realize how much we need the support of our family. We’ve been given a wonderful opportunity, free of distractions, to learn to love our family well. Let’s be committed. Let’s be there for each other, if in prayer only, when no one else can be. I’m thankful for family.

  • God

I’m thankful for extra time to spend reading God’s words, the Bible. I’ve certainly prayed more. The many encouraging sermons I’ve heard via you-tube have taught me more about God. (One of my favorite preacher is Adrian Rogers.)  This is a good time for us to draw closer to the God we love but are prone to wander away from.

When we emerge from this unprecedented time like a butterfly out of its cocoon, may we be more patient, more kind, more thoughtful, more humble, more intentional in our living and giving. I want to look and act more like Jesus.

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May we not let this time of testing be wasted. We can look at this time of isolation and widespread sickness as training ground to become more of a soldier of Jesus Christ. It’s a time to dig deep, search our hearts, discern what is holding us back from giving God and others our all. May we learn to prefer others above ourselves and become a humble servant. And what better place to learn this than at home with our families? Jesus humbled Himself and became a servant and He calls us to do the same. This is where we will find true joy and peace. And let’s not forget to look for the positive things and thank God for them.

 

Again, I quote Randy Alcorn, “The degree of joy rises to the degree of gratitude, and the level of gratitude corresponds to the level of God’s grace experienced in our suffering.” 

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes Hammersley

 

 

Do Not Fear….even the Coronavirus?

 

Being in the dark is a common fear of little ones. When our children were small we had a glow in the dark plaque that read, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee (God) from Psalm 56:3.  Claiming God’s promises from the Bible is one of the best ways I’ve found to combat fear.

What causes YOUR heart to tremble?  The coronavirus has the potential to cause even the bravest of men to be afraid.  This very well may be the scariest time many people today have ever faced. So what does God say about fear?

God tells us to not be afraid.

I haven’t counted for myself, but I’ve heard that some variation of, “Do not fear” appears 365 times in the Bible…once for every day of the year.

In Matthew 10:29-31 Jesus was talking to his disciples and He said,

Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.

God knows all about us and cares about how we are feeling. He tells us to not be afraid.

Isaiah 41:10 has become one of my favorite verses.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Joshua 1:9 reads,

Have not I (the Lord) commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

God commands us to not worry.

Philippians 4:6 says, Be anxious for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

This is not a suggestion or recommendation and no exceptions are listed…. not even  for the coronavirus.  Notice what Paul is telling the Philippians to do.

  1. Pray about every thing
  2. Supplicate- ask or beg for something earnestly or humbly
  3. Be thankful to God for something
  4. Politely ask God

I’ve heard worrying is like rocking in a chair… it expends a lot of energy but gets you nowhere.

Jesus invites us to let Him carry our burdens.

In Matthew 11:28-30

Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am meek (gentle) and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

The apostle Peter encourages us to turn to God in time of need  with the proper attitude.  I Peter 5-7 says…

..be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

It’s a battle to focus and keep our eyes on God whom we cannot see more than on the problems which swirl around us. I guess that’s why God has to remind us so often to not fear. But once again He promises in Isaiah 26:3, 4 to give us peace if we will trust Him.

Thou (God) will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed (sustained by) thee (God): because he trusteth in thee (God). Trust in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everylasting strength.

When we fear and worry, we aren’t trusting God.  Many times we would rather have our own way than God’s because we want to call the shots.  We want an easy, fun, comfortable life.  God is more interested in us becoming more like Jesus and preparing for eternity with Him.  Unfortunately, we learn best during hardships. That’s when we tend to seek God the most.

Times like these often reveal our level of faith or lack thereof. Are we cooperating with God or kicking, screaming, and bucking against His plan for us? Are we accepting and embracing the hardship or becoming angry and bitter?

I’ve heard faith is like film. It’s developed in the dark. Are we willing to trust God and walk through the dark so He can develop and mature us spiritually? Or are we wanting to be God and do things our way? This is a sobering time to examine our hearts, our faith, our priorities. Are we living out what we’ve been saying we believe?

Do not fear. If you are putting your faith in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation, and not in anything you have done, you can be assured God is working all things out for your good and His glory. (Romans 8:28) You can rest as you trust Him. Do not fear.

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes Hammersley

September 1, 2018

September 1, 2018