Two Little Words that can make a Big Difference 

There are two little words that can have a big impact in a positive way… “Thank You”. It is refreshing to me, that at the recent Country Music Awards that the Song of the Year was “Be Humble and Kind.” Saying the words “Thank You”, and the attitude and actions of showing “Kindness” are increasingly disappearing from our culture. There has been a slow erosion over time and unfortunately it has become accepted as normal. Our world has become fragmented in big ways but also in small ways. We have become a people so obsessed with success that we are forgetting the importance of love, respect and kindness. It also seems, at the same time, we have become so cynical and critical of everything and everybody.

But all of that does not diminish the importance of being thankful and giving thanks or encouraging others in some other way. Dr. Albert Scweitzer, a famous musician, pastor, and missionary medical doctor stated this…”In everyone’s life, at sometime, our inner fire goes out. It is then it is burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.” Everyone needs a little spark of encouragement from time to time. 

A little “thank you” or expression of encouragement can go a long way in helping someone. Centuries ago, Aesop described it this way, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” Even the famous humorist Mark Twain said…”I can live two months off a good compliment.”

Being thankful and giving thanks should not be limited to one day of the year in November. ..It should be an everyday occurrence and habit for us…

“Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18(MSG)

 Let’s be kind and thankful and reflect God’s love and encourage someone each day…

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever” – Psalm 107:1 (NLT)

Facing our Fears in Life

I had a friend call me one evening and asked me to go by the church and find something they had left there earlier in the day. So I went into the building, and walked down the hall, when I entered the room, I hit the light switch but no light came on… I was looking on the floor, and all of a sudden a door opens, and when I looked up there was a man standing there with a scary mask on his head! I could not get out of there fast enough, as I was trying to escape. I bounced around like like a pinball in a pinball game machine. When I left, I hit the walls going down the hall and then…I heard laughter…??? It was some of my “friends” that were there the whole time and had played a trick on me! After a few minutes, when I finally caught my breath and composure I asked them …I didn’t say any bad words, did I?…I have laughed a lot about that experience, and don’t feel sorry for me because it was a payback for the previous times I scared my “friends.”We all face fears in our lives. Some fears are based in reality, others are imagined. Some times they come as a surprise in a instant or sometimes they gradually build over time and get on “our nerves” and attack our mental and emotional wellbeing. There are many sources of phobias and fears. Here are few that experts have identified: “Chrysophobia” is the fear of the color orange, (I have actually overcome this one by attending a lot of Clemson football games when I lived in the Carolinas and UT Vols games now that I live here in Tennessee.) Then there is “Gelotophobia”, which is the fear of being laughed at (I have overcame that fear by laughing at myself).One of the more recent diagnosed phobias is “Nomophobia”, the fear of being out of mobile phone contact… and then there is “Phobophobia”, which is the fear of having a fear or a phobia.

We all have encounter fears in our lives. How should we respond to them? I personally have found that getting the facts and then strengthening our faith to face our fears, is the most helpful approach. Sometimes it can be as simple as just getting the facts to calm our fears,when we find out our fears were really unfounded or true. Even if our fears are confirmed, looking to God is always helpful, regardless of what we are afraid of or fears that we are facing in our lives. The fears we struggle with may bigger than us but they are never too big for God to handle if we will let Him. We can take Him at His Word…

-“Where God’s love is, there is no fear, because God’s perfect love drives out fear.” – 1 John 4:18 (NCV)

-“For God did not give us a spirit that makes us afraid but a spirit of power, and love, and self-control.” – 2 Timothy 1:7 (EXB)

-“I sought the Lord, and He answered me and delivered me from ALL my fears.”- Psalm 34:4 (ESV)

A Time to let Go…and a Time to let Grow

This time of year attracts many visitors to our area, when the leaves change colors on the trees here in the mountains. I saw this recently on a sign: “Each year thousands of backpackers climb the Great Smoky Mountains…Nature’s Peace flows into them as Sunshine flows into the Trees; the Winds blow their freshness into them…and their cares drop of like Autumn leaves.” – Adapted from John Muir  In a few short weeks the leaves will drop of the trees as we transition into winter. I like this description of the process: “I realize there’s something incredibly honest about trees in winter, how they’re experts at letting things go.”

It seems that learning to “let go” is more difficult for us humans. Why is it so difficult for us to let go of things? Even though we know there are times when we really should do it? Feelings of loss can heighten the awareness for our need for security, maybe a fear of loss of control, or even concern about the future… these are some of the most common reasons we struggle with it.

“Letting go” doesn’t mean we forget the past but we do learn to deal with it and put it into the proper perspective in the grand scheme of things as we look forward to the future. Our ancestors here in the Smoky Mountains had a saying that allowed them to function during times of adverse weather, sickness and other difficulties they faced on a regular basis…”Make the least of what goes, and make the most of what comes.”

Dr.Henry Cloud states that “Everything has seasons and we have to be able to recognize when something’s time has passed and be able to move to the next season.” Recognizing that is such an important step for continuing on with our lives in a healthful way.

Letting go can also make room in our lives to grow in other areas of interest. It can be a time of renewal for our mind, body, and spirit. It can be a time to refocus on what is most important in our lives. “The Lord says, do not think about or dwell on the past. Look at the new thing I am going to do. It is already happening.Don’t you see it? I will make a path in the desert and streams in dry land.” – Isaiah 43:18-20 (EXB).

Let go and let grow…May we let go of things that are keeping us from becoming what God wants us to be and take time to grow in areas of our lives that will help us to be our best for Him.