The Little Things

A cup of hot chocolate. A pretty journal. A sweet comment on my blog. All of these things—little though they are—make me smile, inside and out.

I love how little things like this can set the tone for my day—or turn it around if things are going badly.In the midst of all the stresses we face in our lives today, a simple joy can lift our spirits or spur impromptu communion with our Father as we whisper a word of thanks.

One recent joy I’ve experienced has been the early morning visits of a pair of cardinals. They must want to take advantage of my birdfeeder before any other competition shows up. I haven’t been able to get a good photo of them during this semi-dark hour—and they don’t wait around for good lighting for my camera. They take off as soon as too much daylight intrudes on their comfort zone.

Even though I can’t record their visits for posterity, I get to see them and enjoy their presence. I’m not sure why, but it makes me happy just knowing they’ve found my yard and have made it part of their routine. It’s a little thing indeed, but they make me smile first thing in the morning. And that’s a very good thing, right? :)

Likewise, little blessings in our spiritual lives can set a happy tone for our days or lighten our loads on difficult days as well. Like the lift to my spirit the cardinals supply, even small spiritual blessings can be all it takes to keep us encouraged and moving forward in our walk of faith.

Maybe a song comes on the radio and ministers peace or comfort just when we need it. Or perhaps the sun breaks through the clouds when we’re longing for a touch from the Lord. And God’s Word? One sentence or verse can make all the difference on any given day.

Yes, it’s the little blessings that keep us going over the long haul, isn’t it? Let’s thank God today for the little things. The things that make us smile inside and out.

“From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessingafter another.” John 1:16

*What little thing has brought you joy recently?

*Update: I wrote this post a week or two ago, and now the early-morning cardinals have deserted me. Am hoping they will return. I miss them! :)

*Flickr photo by byJoeLodge

**The Life Notes Subscriber Appreciation Giveaway is still underway. Details are in my Oct. 17 post and sign-up is to the right. Don’t miss out on the chance to win a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble!

Any: A Little Word with Big Impact

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

If you ever feel little or insignificant, take heart. Little things have a way of being real game-changers at times. For example, some of the littlest and seemingly least important words in scripture can impact our lives in giant ways.

In the past, we’ve looked at how the words us and let were used in two different verses. We discovered what a huge difference they made in expanding our understanding and application of those particular verses.

Today let’s focus on the word any in the scripture above.As the apostle Paul teaches how we can offer comfort to others because of the comfort God has given us, he opens wide our comfort-giving door.

We are not restricted to giving comfort to only those who are going through the same trials we ourselves have endured. No, God tells us through these words of Paul that “we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”(emphasis mine)

Who can we comfort? That’s right—those in anytrouble.

And there you have it. Our little word with big impact. Any. No barriers, no restrictions. Wide open ministry doors.

The next time we start to hold back from comforting someone because we feel inadequate, because we’ve never experienced her kind of trouble or grief, let’s remember that we have the very comfort of God to offer our hurting friend. Let’s remember the word anyand walk through the door before us. It’s wide open.

“For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.” 2 Corinthians 1:5

*What are some ways you like to comfort others?

*Flickr photo by Andreía

Let: Will We Allow Fear and Worry?

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you . . . Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

Have you ever noticed how little words in scripture (or anywhere for that matter) can have great significance? Last year I blogged about the giant impact of the word “us” in Hebrews 12:1. Today let’s look at John 14:27 and focus on another little word—the word “let”.
When Jesus spoke the words above to the disciples, He had just shared the Last Supper with them and told them He would not be with them much longer. He then spent time comforting them and telling them about the Holy Spirit, whom He promised He would send to them.

Jesus’ reassuring words at such a critical time in all of their lives still hold great comfort for us today, but they hold instruction as well. He told the disciples then and is telling us now not to be afraid, not to let our hearts be troubled.

By using the word “let”, Jesus shows us that we have some control over our anxieties and fears. He exhorts us not to allow them to overtake our hearts.

Experiencing pangs of worry or fear about life situations is natural and happens to all of us. It’s what we do with those initial feelings that matters in the long run.

Do we dwell on our worries and fears and allow them to grow larger by the minute, or do we honestly acknowledge them and then take them to the Lord in prayer? Do we spend time and precious energy imagining worst-case scenarios and desperately trying to think of fixes, or do we relinquish our burdens into our Father’s capable and faithful hands?

We don’t have to “let” anyone or anything steal the peace that Jesus promised us. It’s as real and available to us today as it was to the disciples. Let’s listen to Jesus. Let’s not allow our hearts to be troubled. Let’s give our worries and fears to Him.

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

*Sometimes anxiety can be a symptom of a physical problem. If you suspect that at all, be sure to see your doctor.

*Do you have a favorite scripture about worry or fear that you’d like to share?

*Flickr photo by kelsey_lovefusionphoto

Us

5241046624_76bb6b5145_z“…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1b

“Us.” One tiny word, two little letters, with giant impact.

Who is to throw off everything that hinders? Us. Who is to run with perseverance? Us. Who is the race marked out for? Us. Not me. Not you. Us. We don’t have to run the race alone.

Just think of how that one little word changes everything. We can have support. We can have camaraderie. We can have the encouragement of others as we run our races, whether they’re races wrapped up in relationships, jobs, illnesses, goals, losses, or living lives of faith with victory.

In fact, we’re not meant to live the Christian life independent of other believers. Another passage in Hebrews (10:24-25) tells us, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Do you see it again? Us. Yes, we need to run together.

Let’s consider each of the races in our lives right now. Do we have running partners or groups running alongside for each one? Do we have those who are spurring us on, encouraging us, and giving us strength to persevere—or are we out there all on our own?

Let’s not forget the little word that changes everything. Let’s not forget “us”.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

*Flickr photo by Drongowski, Creative Commons License

*Next post will bring the return of Summer Photo Fun. Don’t miss it! :)