Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transparent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world. ~ Sara Ban Breathnach

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Pause - Pray - Gratitude

Thank you, God, for this good life and forgive us if we do not love it enough. ~ Garrison Keillor

My four grandkids that always bring a grateful smile to my heart.
I have continued to think about "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" as I have celebrated the Fourth of July with my family and friends this past weekend and the more I have reflected on the notion of "pursuit" the more hopeless it sounds!

I have talked before about my favorite devotional book, Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young.  Yesterday I smiled even bigger as I read the devotion for July 4.
"When you worship Me in spirit and truth, you join with choirs of angels who are continually before My throne. Though you cannot hear their voices, your praise and thanksgiving are distinctly audible in heaven. Your petitions are also heard, but it is your gratitude that clears the way to My Heart. With the way between us wide open, My blessings fall upon you in rich abundance. Practice praising and thanking Me continually throughout this day."The greatest blessing is nearness to Me - abundant Joy and Peace in My Presence. 
How cool is that! "...your gratitude clears the way to My Heart..."

Who said an old dog can't learn new things?
Something else that occurred to me this weekend, I THINK it would be impossible to feel both the positive emotion of gratitude AND at the same time feel a negative emotion like fear or anger.  I don't have scientific research, so I can't state this as fact.  It is something I hope to pay attention to. If this is true, that I can't hold both fear and gratitude, then gratitude births other positive feelings like joy, love, hope, compassion...and happiness!

Which would then have happiness pursuing me!

All of this brings me around to the news tonight regarding the Casey Anthony trial.  My first reaction was outrage, but then I stopped...I paused...

I don't know what the jurors heard to have come back with four not-guilty verdicts, yet, I am not Casey Anthony's judge. I decided I can be grateful that we have a system in this country that is supposed to be just.  Is it perfect? Absolutely not, yet I am blessed to live in a country with such a system. 

I realized I can choose to become knotted up with anger, like I have heard some doing, or I can choose to believe that God will work this out! I can learn from this case, and when/if I am called upon to serve on a jury again, I will do my best to be totally present and to listen with an open heart.

Before coming to these decisions, I turned to scripture, to see if I could discover something that would help me with the anger I had when the news came across the radio.  The danger with looking for verses is that one can find a verse to justify nearly anything one might want to justify! I know this all to well. As I opened my Bible, I asked for Spirit's guidance as I began reading.  I discovered two verses from James 1:11-12:
11 Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?
~~sigh~~ Sometimes this path toward spiritual and emotional maturity is difficult. I am beginning to appreciate that when I pause and turn to prayer, the emotions of my inner Demon, that want to rise up in me, are quieted.  Ummm!! That brings me back to the question "Can I hold both gratitude and fear/anger at the same time?"

Lord, it is so easy to "react", but I have learned the hard way when I react, it is often from my gut rather than my head or heart. Thank you for helping me to pause today. God, help me to pause in the future so that I might respond as you would have me respond rather than reacting with the emotions of my inner demon. When I listen to your voice...your voice of truth...I can respond from a place of less anger and fear.  Praise God!

Casting Crowns...The Voice of Truth 

One more picture of the four little people who bring such joy to my heart!

Many Blessings ~ A Grateful "Giz"

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