Falling into Winter 11-20-18

Thanks: kindly or grateful thoughts; gratitude. An expression of gratitude.
Giving: The act of bestowing something to someone.
Webster’s Dictionary

Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.
Henry Van Dyke
Thanksgiving; What does the mention of that word bring to your mind? Sitting at a bounty laden table with friends and family? Roast turkey, pumpkin pie?  Oh Yeah! My mouth is watering already! Thanksgiving day is an American tradition; A time to reflect on God’s provision with the main purpose of expressing our gratitude for another year of His many blessings. But have you ever thought about exactly what it means to “give” thanks?

My mother, like most moms taught me from a very early age the importance of saying please and thank you. Once the lesson was taught the coaching went something like this… When I wanted something…”What do you say?” Of course the answer was “please”. And when I acquired the ________… “Now what do you say?” You got it…”THANK YOU!”

After a while and enough coaching, please and thank you can become a rote phrase, something like “Have a nice day” from the  grocery clerk. But, Oh the power of a true and sincere  expression of gratitude. How we take for granted the importance of those two little words. When someone has blessed us in some way, with their time, energy or with a monetary or sentimental gift, it is only natural to be grateful. But when we take the time to sincerely verbalize and/or write a  thank you note, we are “giving” thanks. Gratitude expressed is a gift given in return that blesses and validates the one who initiates this wonderful circle of giving and receiving.

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” 
Author Unknown

Yes, I learned to say please and thank you form my mother, but I learned the real power of Thank You from Lee, my husband of 25 years.  Even the simple act of cleaning house or cooking a simple meal rarely go unnoticed and certainly never unappreciated. Never do I feel taken for granted. His expressions of gratitude  inspire me to notice all that he does and is for me as well. It is a spiral of love, giving, serving and showing honor to one another that grows ever wider as it is “fed”.

Yes, there are many times that I have received an act of kindness or benefited from  an “expected” responsibility and failed to express my gratitude; A co-worker that took out the office trash, a grandchild that cleared their own dishes without being told.  The store clerk who took the extra effort to smile and help me find an item. The moments when I have taken the time (and effort?) to say a sincere “thank you” have (most often) made a noticeable impact; a lifting of the shoulders, a smile of appreciation — powerful!

          ” Thanksgiving  —  It’s not just a one-time, special day of feasting but a good daily habit”

I would like to take this opportunity to say Thank You, to you, my readers, those who take the time to read and respond to my newsletters, blogs and/or Facebook posts. May you be  filled with joy this holiday season and may you be blessed as you watch for opportunities to express your gratitude  as you share in the warm circle of Thanksgiving.       



IMG_1206editedGreat is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father, There is no shadow of turning with Thee.
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not, As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness, To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

From the song, Great is Thy Faithfulness by Chris Rice
Faithfulness.  According to Webster’s Dictionary one who is faithful shows true and constant support or loyalty, is steadfast in affection or allegiance,  is firm in adherence to promises or in observance of duty, is deserving of trust and keeps their promises. That’s a pretty tall order, wouldn’t you say? Does that describe you? Does that describe the company you keep? Does that fit in with your view of God?

I for one would like to be thought of as one who is faithful. I do try — and most of the time I think I am — that is until I’m not. Oh I have big plans, goals and commitments I make (mostly to myself) and more often than not, I (eventually) follow through. But how easy it is to lose sight of the vision of what started out as an exciting passion. When faced with the daily grind of life’s ups and downs the clarity of big ideas dim and my focus gets clouded by the busyness of other things.

If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot disown himself. 2 Timothy 2:13 NIV

Can you relate? I bet you can because, just like me, we are constantly faced with the limits of our humanity in our journey through this earthly life. But thankfully God is always faithful, even (especially) when I am not, and in His perfect faithfulness He NEVER gives up on me. He calls me back to what He has planned for my life, with relentless, untiring faith in me. He promises to strongly support me and fills me with all that I need by  the power of His Spirit to successfully accomplish the works that He has called me to.

For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. 
2 Chron. 16:9 NIV

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Prov. 19:21 NIV

Maybe like me you set out to follow that call and at times and in various ways you have wandered and lost your way. One of the things I especially like about the change of seasons is that it is often a time conducive to  reevaluating priorities and activities. This time of reevaluation invariably seems to lead to a new opportunity to refocus and make way for new plans.

Is there something that you believe that God has called you to? A calling that is relentless in its pull on your heart?  I encourage you to spend a time in self examination, seek His voice and ask Him to show you the way back. You may be led to take up where you left off or perhaps He has a new work for you.

It’s never too late to start again. I’d like to close this message with a portion of the words to a song It’s Never Too Late, written by my musician  friend, Charla Bauman. Thank you Charla for the inspirational words.
It’s never too late, It’s never too soon to do the things that you love to do. Don’t let another day slip by you in a way that you don’t even notice how the time flies by. [It’s never too late, It’s never too soon, it’s never too late]…
…The secret dream that’s been with me since I was just a kid I remember it at certain times, like when I’m lying still in bed.  *It’s the thing that makes me come alive even when it’s just a thought. Can I get it back in some small way or am I simply caught ?
When the final chapter’s written- in the story that is- “me” I know that I will not regret the things that set me free.*To be who I was meant to be, instilled by God above, To hold on to things lightly but,  hold close the ones I love.
It’s never too late, It’s never too soon to do the things that you love to do. Don’t let another day slip by you in a way that you don’t even notice how the time flies by. [It’s never too late, It’s never too soon, it’s never too late]

Be well, Be Blessed,
Mary A. Mills


Promises Promises

It is easy to make promises – it is hard work to keep them. Boris Johnson

A promise made is a debt unpaid. Robert W. Service

Have you ever had someone break a promise? Have you ever broken one? As human beings we are inherently limited of foresight and with that, sometimes we fail to keep our promises. As earnest as our intentions may be at the time we make them, or conversely of someone that promises us something, they are often not kept.

Promise: a reason to expect that something will happen in the future. Webster’s Dictionary (Emphasis mine)

There is that word again: expect. Last month I wrote about hope. How often do I place my hope in an expected outcome, only to find myself disappointed, discouraged and depressed? Of course, it is only natural – and reasonable, to expect the people that we count on to be true to their word, But alas, sometimes (sometimes often) people fail us – fail to keep their promises. And I know that I too have let others down by not following through on what I have pledged. Whether by carelessness, thoughtlessness or just plain forgetfulness – whatever the reason – IT HURTS!

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t hold ourselves or others accountable – I’m just saying, “Yep, it happens”. I’m also NOT saying that I should lower my expectations, just that I not allow them to affect me so deeply when they are not met. People will fail me, I will fail others. Fact of life. I will just say this, “I will do my best, as far as is humanly possible, to keep my promises, and when I fail, I am asking in advance for the grace to be forgiven.” That might sound like a cop out, but seriously, that IS the best I can offer.

When I was a very young adult I went through a series of life changing experiences. Between the ages of 15-16 I became pregnant, married the father and shortly thereafter, lost my mother to suicide. One month later my new husband was drafted, again leaving me feeling abandoned. After he returned from his overseas duty we divorced. When I was 17 I met a man whom I believed to be my ‘Knight in Shining Armor.’ He adopted my son after we married when I was 18. I then gave birth to another son when I was 19 and within the first year of his life, I witnessed my ‘Shining Knight’ slip into a clinical depression, abandoning me emotionally.

In the midst of those troubling years I cried out to God and gave my heart to Him, asking Him to guide my life. Around this time I was given a little book; The Jesus Person Pocket Promise Book: 800 Promises from the Word of God – A collection of verses compiled by David Wilkerson. Being a new believer and unfamiliar with the bible, I treasured that little book as if it were a life saver to a drowning victim. And indeed it was, for each of the promises I read lifted me a bit higher out of the stormy waters that threatened to pull me under.

With each promise I was inspired to study the bible, to learn ‘the rest of the story’ that these promises referenced.  In the 46 years that I have been a Christian He has never let me down and I know that He never will. There is one thing that I can promise you with ultimate confidence. If you cry out to Him, He will never go back on His word or break a promise. On Him you can depend. I am resting on His faithfulness – the promise of spring and of new life. He is Risen!!

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. Romans 10:23

Be well, Be blessed!




flowers in snow

Just like the lily in winter’s snow – Waiting for spring – I face the darkness so cold and alone – Looking for light -Wanting to grow – Waiting to sing- I want to sing.
From the Song, “I will Survive” by Cynthia Clawson

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness. Desmond Tutu

The above photo,  though not of lilies, (Daphne, I think)  reminded me of the words to  Cynthia Clawson’s song, “I will Survive”  That song holds special meaning to me as I first heard it during a very dark and lonely period of my life.  In early January of 1993 I was putting closure on a marriage of 20 years, my youngest son had left for college in the fall, and following the excitement of the holiday festivities, I was truly alone for the first time in my adult life. On one level I was very much enjoying the autonomy and freedom of being single, on the other hand  I  was naturally feeling the cold and darkness of winter that first season on my own. One evening, on a moonless night, depressed and unable to sleep I got up and around midnight  climbed up a hillside in my suburban neighborhood . Finding a curbside spot overlooking my little valley, bundled up against the cold, I sat down to rest after the long climb. The brisk night air and the sparkling multi-colored Christmas lights on the homes below filled me with an overwhelming  sensation that I can only describe as hope. That sensation gave me the emotional energy to hope for a better future.

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.. Martin Luther King

Hope — It is a word filled emotion — differing emotions for some than for others and at various times and situations. There can be the excitement of an anticipated pleasant experience  — at other times, the anticipation  of disappointment overrides any sense of hope for a positive expected outcome. I have definitely experienced all of those emotions. Recently a friend of mine shared the frustration of a reoccurring troublesome issue in a relationship, that led her to proclaim, “It’s just way too painful to hope.” Boy, do I relate! Perhaps you can relate as well. Waiting, we pray, and then — a glimmer of hope. As the distressing situation seems to improve we enjoy a season of sailing on smooth waters. Then sadly — poof — disappointment knocks the wind out of our hopeful sails and once again we find ourselves navigating the choppy waves of discouragement.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. Proverb 13:12

How do we find it in ourselves to continue hoping when we repeatably experience the heart sickness of deferred hope? The one way that I have come to find peace in the midst of situations and times of absolute discouragement, is to look to The One who Is Hope. Not in any hoped for outcome, situation, person, place or thing. It doesn’t mean I stop praying for change, growth, healing, restoration. It means I set my hope in God alone. I take people off the hook, so to speak of meeting my expectations. It doesn’t mean I let them walk on or abuse me. I maintain my healthy boundaries of self respect and I speak the truth regarding my feelings and needs, but without any expectations.

I recently found great comfort in these words… If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Romans 12:18. Did you catch that part about “as much as depends on you”? I know that I cannot control anyone but myself and my own responses to the difficult people around me. I can find peace and I can experience a life of hope regardless of the seeming hopelessness of some situations. I pray that you too might resolve to live a life of hope and to experience the peace of knowing  The One who is Hope, who is Peace. He is just a prayer away.

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 
P.S. I also take great comfort and find strength in the words of the Serenity Prayer. Click here for the original complete version by Reinhold Niebuhr.

 Be well, Be blessed!