30 Days of Gratitude

30 Days of Gratitude

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I love it when researchers start telling us that something is good for us and that ‘something’ is a thing that the Bible has been saying for thousands of years – the importance of gratitude.

Psalm 118:24

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

1 Thessalonians 5:18

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

I especially love these words written by Paul while in prison:

Philippians 4:6-7

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Here is a link to an easy to read (and understand) research based article entitled How Gratitude Changes the Brain – And How to Make it Work For You.

A few weeks ago I read an excellent article by bereaved mum Angela Miller on her blog entitled A Bed for my Heart called Grateful and Grieving. I posted a link to it on my Facebook page and said that this describes how I feel about the month of December – ‘grateful and grieving’. Grateful for the many blessings in my life, but grieving the loss of our precious and much loved daughter.

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December is not only the time of year when family togetherness is totally emphasized and the empty seat at the table is at its most conspicuous, but it’s also the month in which Leah’s illness first began (2012), the month in which Leah suddenly and unexpectedly became critically ill and was admitted to ICU (2013), as well as being the month in which Leah was born (31st December 1997).

However, as December came closer, I quickly realised that I was more ‘grieving’ than ‘grateful’. I really thought that I had learned how to live with the pain of grief and loss that is my constant companion, but I suddenly found that I was starting to unravel. I was once again crying myself to sleep, grateful for the oblivion that a few hours of sleep can bring. At the same time I was feeling guilty for focussing so much on what I have lost instead of being thankful for all that I have.

Then, I noticed on Facebook that another bereaved mum with whom I’m friends, was doing #TheHappinessDare – 30 Days of Gratitude. I looked up the link that she included on her Facebook post and it took me to this blog post by Jennifer Dukes Lee: The Stubborn Refusal to Give in to Despair — A Dare for All of Us. Jennifer provides a printable list of thirty prompts (which she refers to as 30 Days of Gratitude) to help us count our blessings.

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I was immediately drawn to this idea. The only decision for me was whether I would do this publicly every day via my Facebook page or privately in my journal (or both). Having mulled it over for a few days, I’ve decided that I will derive the most benefit from following the prompts privately in my journal. So armed with a pretty notebook, the printed prompts, glue and a scissors, I have put together my own 30 Days of Gratitude Journal and I have it all ready to begin on the 1st December.

This Christmas season I’m going to take time each day to appreciate the gifts that I already have. Perhaps you too would benefit from participating in the 30 Days of Gratitude challenge this Christmas season?

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Does God Answer Prayer?

Does God Answer Prayer?

Recently my husband was speaking to somebody whose wife had a cancer diagnosis and asked him how his wife was doing.

This man replied that his wife was doing really well and had returned to work. He finished off with the statement “God answers prayer.

That kind of took our breath away. Not the fact that his wife is doing well – we are very happy about that.

It’s him telling us that all of this happened because God answers prayer.

Do people think that we didn’t pray for Leah to be healed?

Do they think that our prayers weren’t good enough?

Or was it just a throwaway comment, expressing his faith in God and not in any way meant to undermine ours?

Once I had calmed down, I reasoned that the last explanation is the most likely.

We’ve encountered many and varied responses from people of faith to the fact of Leah’s death.

One leader in a church that I occasionally go to, informed me a few months after Leah died, that she had died because of “lack of faith”.

He then quoted the Bible verse

Mark 6:5 NLT
And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them.”

You see, for some people, the illness and death of a child doesn’t fit into their neat “I’ve got all the answers” theology.

Even before Leah became ill, I never liked the idea of confining God to a denominational box.

In my opinion, God is way bigger than our pet doctrines and statements of belief.

Yes, I do believe in belonging to a local church and getting involved in the body of Christ.

The Bible says in Hebrews 10:25 GW

We should not stop gathering together with other believers, as some of you are doing. Instead, we must continue to encourage each other even more as we see the day of the Lord coming.

It’s just that I don’t like the idea that any one denomination has got exclusive rights to God.

I think that God is way bigger than the boxes that we sometimes try to squeeze Him into.

For the record, I do believe that God answers prayer. I continue to pray regularly for many people who are unwell.

I don’t know why some people get better and others die.

I don’t believe that Leah died because of “lack of faith”.

Leah herself certainly did not lack faith.

There were hundreds of churches and thousands of Christians praying and believing for Leah to be healed.

However, God isn’t like a genie in a lamp. It isn’t as simple as us just telling God what we want and then abracadabra – we want it, so we’ve got it.

The Bible says in Isaiah 55:8-9 NKJV

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There are some things in this life that are always going to be a mystery.

Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged,

Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged,

Leah is quite sedated today but when I speak to her she opens her eyes & will often indicate ‘yes’ or ‘no’ by nodding or shaking her head.
The Doc on duty is “old school” and the last time he spoke to me he was so blunt and pessimistic about Leah’s chances of survival that I had a very sleepless night – my ONLY sleepless night since Leah’s admission as I am quite practiced at sleeping in a hospital environment.
Therefore I was not looking forward to what Dr KillJoy had to say to me today. I certainly don’t want any Dr to give me false hope, I just don’t want them to take away hope completely and thankfully today he didn’t.
None of the samples taken from Leah’s lungs on Monday have grown any bacteria, viruses or fungi so the Docs have now concluded that her respiratory failure has been caused by inflammation in her lungs not infection, but this is still a complication of transplant.
They are now giving her mega doses of intravenous steroids. They have also decided to defer the immunoglobulin and I have been given a few different reasons for this – personally I think it’s because doctors differ!
Today’s Doc says that Leah’s condition is static – that in itself is good news – that nothing major has gone down hill since yesterday. He says that if there is going to be a positive response to the steroid therapy it will take at least 4 or 5 days – so let’s keep hoping and praying.
I’m going back in to Leah now to play all those beautiful faith filled songs that she loves to listen to. Thank you everyone for your lovely messages of support.
Every day as I head into ICU I try to fix my mind on one Bible verse that will give me the strength to keep going – this is today’s verse –
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:9