Blessings in the Making

Blessings arrive in many forms.  Some are easy to recognize and are happily accepted.  For example, the birth of a healthy and extremely wanted baby or the marriage of two people who are very much in love.  Other blessings are disguised and hard to recognize. Our desire to initially reject them is strong.  For example losing a job or fighting an addiction.

As I age, I realize more and more that a “blessed life” doesn’t always mean an easy life. Society’s view of a “blessed” life can be unrealistic and make some of us feel like we are falling below the bar…..and blessings are so much more than this.

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I’ve had days (and even years) when life just didn’t seem to be going my way.  Heartbreak, disappointment, and stress have all tempted me to lose hope.

Thanks to the internet I began to discover the talented writing of some incredible people sharing their private moments.  I have read stories of joy, stories which include photos of nature’s beauty, and stories of the love of family and friends.  Truly these are blessings that are easy to recognize and accept.

Then there are stories of emotional or physical abuse, alcohol addiction, and unresolved issues which are all discussed with passion as well as cries for understanding, forgiveness, acceptance, and healing.  Some of these stories have happy endings. A few of the writers have arrived at a place of peace in spite of the incredible pain they have endured.  Some have been granted the “serenity to accept the things they cannot change.”  Some have realized that they have been given the opportunity to experience a blessing in the making.

I occasionally read a blog written by a young mother who has a special needs child. During her pregnancy she often wrote about her joy as she waited for the day her child would be born.  She also compassionately wrote of the agonizing moment shortly after giving birth when she was told of the struggles that lie ahead.  She speaks very candidly about her child (who is now about 10 years old) ~ the heartbreaks, the joyful moments found in the small things, and how much she has learned through her precious child.

Another blog I follow is written by a woman whose husband is declining due to Alzheimer.  She writes of her journey as she learns how to cope with this dreadful disease.  I so admire her determination to rise to this challenge and how she looks for and appreciates the joy she and her husband can still find in life.

Yet another blog I follow is written by a person who is battling alcohol addiction.  Her moving stories of success and failure as she trudges through relapses, or speaks of the negative and positive changes in her life as a result of her choices, yet her faith stays strong.  She speaks of the people from all walks of life she has met through this journey and how they have helped each other.

Yes, the journey’s of each of these women are incredibly tough, but the deep love, the huge amount of inner strength they probably never knew they had, and joy they have found within themselves as well as in and through others are blessings that are continually in the making.

Making the choice to seek the presence of Christ among the trials instead of giving in to the temptation to grumble and sigh help me (in God’s perfect timing) meet the challenges I encounter in my life. I seek clarity where there is obscurity and strength where there is weakness. Thank you, Lord, for the opportunity to watch You turn trials into (sometimes unexpected) blessings!

Psalm 9:1 – “I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart.”

Isaiah 43:2 – “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.

Lent

When I was a child I never really looked forward to Lent. Unlike Advent, a time of joy and anticipation when candles are lit each week as Christmas Day approaches, Lent would often seem like something to be endured rather than a time of grace and spiritual growth. Childhood memories of giving up candy or sitting through church services with sermons about sacrifice or self-denial come to mind.

As I entered adulthood I would often either breeze through this season without a thought or start out with good intentions only to wind up failing and giving up the journey. This would lead to guilty feelings and my inner spiritual weaknesses glared at me.

lentLent is a 40-day period leading up to Easter that begins on Ash Wednesday. It is a time of self-examination, of penance, and an opportunity to deepen your relationship with God. It is also an opportunity to de-clutter your life in both material and spiritual ways.

Lent is a journey if you chose to take it. This journey is not for the faint hearted. It is difficult and you can get easily discouraged as it can be filled with struggles. It can also be very rewarding and full of victories.

Each year I have come to realize that as a believer, I am not alone on this journey. Deuteronomy 31:8 states “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave or forsake you.”

At the end of Lent there is a Resurrection which leaves us with joy, hope and promise.

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The place of the crucifixion is marked by a Byzantine altar.  Under the altar is a bowl shape with a hole in it which marks where the cross stood. (Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.)

This year, I do not want to endure Lent. I choose to embrace it and allow it to shape me and change me.

My hope for this season of Lent is that whatever I add will remain a part of my daily life even after Lent ends. And through this season of Lent I hope I can focus on deepening my relationship with Jesus and continue to grow in my walk with Him.