Blessings- receiving them, counting them, and sharing them

It has been suggested to me tonight that I should blog on the topic of “blessings”.  I’m very excited by this prospect, actually, because I find the whole concept of blessings just fascinating.  They are fascinating to me because as humans we are so unworthy of Christ’s blessings, but as His children we become completely worthy of them.

The Scripture tells us that He was made to be sin for us, so we could become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor. 5:21).  WOW, now that’s powerful stuff!  In our salvation, we BECOME the righteousness and therefore become worthy of the fullness of His blessings.  I’ve stated in earlier blogs that I once heard a preacher explain it like this: Heaven is a storehouse full of wonderful gifts just waiting to be had.  All we have to do is ask and receive.  Luke 11:19 tells us to ask and it will be given unto us, seek and we will find.  I don’t know why it is so difficult for us to wrap our minds around this concept, because why should it come to any surprise to us that our Heavenly Father Who was willing to give His only Son for us would want us to receive all of the blessings He has in store for us?  Is it because we still feel unworthy?  Are we too embarrassed to ask?  Or maybe it could be the devil planting little seeds of doubt in our mind…. “God doesn’t care if you need a miracle/a healing/a new job/a car/etc”.  Whatever our reason, God Himself has already told us that His blessings are waiting for us.  We need to stop questioning and start being obedient.  Let Him shower His blessings on you, on your family.  Accept these wonderful gifts He has prepared for you.  You are the love of His life and He wants to show His affection.  We serve a mighty God.

In addition to receiving blessings we are also instructed to count them.  In Psalm 103:2 we are called to bless the Lord and forget not all His benefits.  In a life which is most often flooded with stress and pressures, this can be a daunting task.  It may not be the easiest of chores to make your list of blessings when you’ve just been fired, or are caring for a sick parent, or are going through a divorce.  However, it is during these times that we MOST need to remember the blessings He has provided us.  “My God shall supply all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus”  (Philippians 4:19).  We serve a Lord Who is faithful, however, we as His children are required to be faithful as well.  We can’t be fair-weather Christians and then run away at the first signs of strain.  These times in our lives are the very testament to the level of our strength and foundation in Christ.  I believe we should count our blessings daily.  Thank Him for what He has done for you, for your family, for your life.  Bless Him and His holy name. 

Once our blessings have been received and properly counted, we should then share them with others.  Matthew 5: 1-14 is often referred to as “The Beatitudes” (from Latin meaning “blessed” or “happy”).  Let me share it with you…

Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2and he began to teach them saying:
 3“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
      for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 4Blessed are those who mourn,
      for they will be comforted.
 5Blessed are the meek,
      for they will inherit the earth.
 6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
      for they will be filled.
 7Blessed are the merciful,
      for they will be shown mercy.
 8Blessed are the pure in heart,
      for they will see God.
 9Blessed are the peacemakers,
      for they will be called sons of God.
 10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
      for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 11“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

13“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.

 14“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

We have an awesome responsibility to our Lord.  We are instructed to be “the light of the world”.  Our light is to shine before all men so they can see the Lord in us and give praise to God.  We must share our light with others.  We must tell of His wonderous deeds.  Share the blessings He has provided you with others.  We can share His blessings in speech or in action.  There is no right or wrong way.  We simply must be obedient. 

I’ve enjoyed spending time on this subject.  I pray that the Heavenly Father will pour out His abundance of blessings upon each of your heads.  I ask in His name that you will be willing to receive and never hesitate to ask.  Thank you, Lord, for all of the blessings you continue to bring into my life.  We alone are not worthy, but it is Christ within us which makes us worthy.  Thank you for this gift.

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A Meditation On Skirted Swimsuits

I have been so busy with life lately that I haven’t had much free time in which to blog.  I think it’s funny that this is my reentrance back into “Manda’s Wonderland”, but even such… here goes-

My family and I have just returned from a trip to a water park.  I’d say within the first 15 minutes of being inside of this water-filled kingdom I KNEW that this blog was coming.  I could just feel it.  Two things became painfully clear to me within just moments of strapping on those overpriced wrist bands.  The first being that I was obviously one of only about 8 other people on the premises who had missed the “Free Tatoo” bus which must have been parked outside.  I saw tattoos on every part of a person’s visible body that you could imagine.  I have friends with tattoos, mind you.  This is just a personal opinion, but I’m wondering how that neck tatoo is working for ya’ while you’re sitting in a job interview?  Just sayin’.  🙂

The second thing which came clearly into focus was that at some point in the life of a woman many of us will cross into that role-defining wardrobe moment otherwise known as the “skirted swimsuit” or even better the “mom” suit.  We’ve all heard about “mom jeans”, but I think the skirted swimsuit screams even more loudly,  “I am mother, hear me roar!  Yeah, I wear a skirt on my swimsuit- what of it?!” 

Now, before I start receiving hate mail on this topic, I should interject that I own a skirted swimsuit.  Mine is probably even worse, actually, because mine was purchased as a maternity swimsuit.  It’s a lovely, shapeless black number with spaghetti straps and not only is it skirted, but the “skirt” starts right up under the boobs, more of a dress actually.  So, you can imagine how lovely and glamorous this piece of $19.99 lycra couture looks on a body- pregnant or not.  Sadly, this eventually became my post-pregnancy swimsuit by default.  I like to think of it as “mysterious”- no one had any idea what was really happening up under those yards and yards of flowing, black fabric.  I could have hidden a pot-bellied pig or a rack of ribs up there and no one would have been any the wiser.

I can remember to this day being about 16 years old and wearing the most adorable bikinis I could get my hands on.  I remember standing in front of a full-length mirror with my girlfriends and all of us complaining about how FAT we looked in our size 6 suits…. SIZE 6!!!!!  Let me tell you, friends, if I could somehow time travel my way back to that group of girls, I would get out and b****- slap each and every one of them!  If I could squeeze even 1/2 of my butt into a size 6 bikini right now, you might just find me running naked up and down Main Street.

There are many different women with many different body types.  Some have stayed in impeccable shape even after childbirth and my hat is off to them.  I know these women.  My best friend has two young girls and every time I see her in a bikini I jokingly say to her, “Would you please eat a sandwich?”  She has taken great care of her physique by running and watching her diet.  I know there are women who are simply genetically inclined to having svelte figures.  I hate  them…… just kidding….. well, sort of.  🙂  Then, there are women like me.  We have it all working against us.  Genetics, childbirth, and the stresses of life have rendered our thighs just a remanent of a memory of the firm, tanned, sinewy, muscled works of art that they used to be. 

I really regret not taking my camera out to give you examples of some of the suits that I witnessed on our trip that day.  Some of the skirted ones were cute and some even looked like you could wear them while walking up and down the aisle at the grocery store while you’re purchasing your Lucky Charms and Slim-Fast.  Others looked like people trying their best to swim while wearing a choir robe-attempting only to reveal the flesh of their ankles and feet.  Some went to the opposite extreme- shoving everything they had into two tiny pieces of fabric which looked as if they would most definitely burst to reveal more than they eyes of any child should ever see. 

It was interesting to me to ponder what motivated each mother as she was getting dressed that day.  Were they trying to cover up or let the world gawk at the body they were blessed with?  I decided on that day that no matter what you wear, you need to remember first and foremost that you are someone’s mother.  You may choose to be the “sexy” mom, but I think that needs to be done with good taste and thoughtfulness.  You may choose to be the “skirt-wearing” mom, feeling more comfortable with a little extra coverage.  Or, you may choose to take the path I’m currently on- somewhere between the two.  I’ve not given up, mind you, and committed myself to wearing a skirted swimsuit for the rest of my life.  I have ventured out and purchased a one-piece suit which contains not even the hint of a skirt.  I know I may be rushing the issue a bit, but I feel that by wearing it publicly, I’ll be more inclined NOT to eat that $7 slice of pizza being offered at the concession stand.  I am first and foremost a mother, and will dress appropriately, but I’m not ashamed of the body I currently have.  It may not be the body of a 16-year-old, but it is the body of a woman with two wonderful blessings- ages 5 and 6- who still loves to feel attractive and feminine.

This is the end of my speech on skirted swimsuits.  Please join me next time when I tackle the subject of women who wear full makeup to the gym.  🙂

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