With Thanksgiving

Philippians 4 v 6 – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Do not be anxious about anything – easier said than done, right? As a self-confessed worrier, the idea of never being worried about anything ever again, despite sounding great, seems totally unrealistic to me. Sometimes I even see my worries as essential to my success. If I’m not worried about an exam, surely that means I haven’t worked hard enough for it!

Our Father cares about us. He wants to calm our fears and give us good things. The answer to our worries? He’s got it, and all we have to do is ask.

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Maybe you’ve noticed the “with thanksgiving” clause in the verse. Could it be that, like Santa, God demands thanksgiving to put us on his list of good children? Do we need thanksgiving to avoid finding a lump of coal in our stocking instead of an answer to prayer?

The answer couldn’t be further from it. God isn’t dependant on our thanks; He is God! Sure He loves it, but He doesn’t need it. No, He calls us to give thanks because it sets us straight. When we thank God for who He is and all that He has given us it changes our perspective. Instead of focusing on how big our earthly problems and worries are we see how much bigger and greater He is. In comparison to Him all else loses focus and what we see as important starts to come into line with what he sees as important. As we focus heavenwards this changes us.

Personally I find it easy to feel overwhelmed by problems, and giving thanks to God for all He’s done for me is definitely something that I’m working on (aren’t we all?!). Let’s aim to be people who give thanks.

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Do you love me?

One of the biggest lies this world tells me is that this life is for me. It’s all about what others can do for me, what I can do for me. It’s about what will bring me the most happiness… a good degree maybe? A successful career? A loving relationship? Travelling the world? A family with a white picket fence? But then that poses the question: will any of that ever be enough?

Let me tell you a story: As a child I dreamed of living abroad. Africa, China, France, Germany… you name a place, I probably dreamed of living there. Maybe that was why after my first French lesson, aged 10 or 11, I asked my teacher if we could have the next lesson entirely in French. I wanted the thrill of doing everything in a foreign language, to buy baguettes and sit in little french cafés eating croissants. I dreamt of adventures around the world, experiencing other places and other things… I thought that that was what I was made for, I thought that it would fulfil me.

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But it doesn’t. I live in Germany now, I’m “living my dreams”, and don’t get me wrong, it’s great. I’m so happy to be here (despite the occasional bout of homesickness) and I’m glad I can experience all this, but it’s not what I was made for, it’s not what will fulfil me. This idealised idea of what will bring me fulfilment will at some point let me down. It will let me down when I feel homesick, or when I feel disconnected from people because of the language barrier, or when everything normalises and it’s not all new and exciting anymore, and at the very latest, when I die.

You see, I wasn’t made to travel, actually I was made to love and be loved by the creator of the universe. The God who loves me enough to send his Son to die for me, not despite being so far from perfect, but because I am so far from perfect.

In Luke 10 v 25-28, a teacher of the law asks Jesus what he has to do to gain eternal life, or put more bluntly, life that will satisfy and fulfil him. Jesus’ response is ask him what the law says, and as such a clever man of the law he replies “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Jesus reminds him that He and loving Him is the only thing that can satisfy us. As great as things in this life are they will end. They will not be, and have not ever been, enough.

I still want to travel of course – this isn’t me saying that I shouldn’t enjoy living abroad and experiencing new cultures, it’s more a reminder that His love is the only real steady constant in my life and the only thing that won’t let me down. Today, he asks everyone who follows him one simple question: ‘do you love me?’.

Why Rubies?

I’ve come to realise that I’ve never really explained the story behind my blog name. So, since I’ve spent a couple of weeks without blogging in this slight ‘pause’ between coming back from Belgium and leaving for Germany, I thought I would tell you a bit about it. The term “Her Value Above Rubies” comes from Proverbs 31v10 in the Bible, which says,

A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.”

It’s part of an epilogue (it’s also an acrostic poem in the original Hebrew!) called, The Wife of Noble Character, and quite honestly, she sounds pretty awesome.

What makes this woman so great? She’s trusted (v11), she continually blesses her husband (v12), she works hard (v13), and provides food not just for her family, but for all who are under her care (v15), she makes wise purchases with the money she has (v16), she makes money from her business (v18, 24), she gives to those who are poor or in need (v20), she’s prepared for the hard times (v21), she dresses well! (v22), she is strong and dignified and isn’t scared of the future (v25), she gives wise advice (v26), she looks after the household and isn’t lazy (v27), she is admired by her husband and children (v28), and she knows that her identity in God is far more important than what she looks like (v30).

Those are pretty great compliments. I decided to name my blog Her Value Above Rubies, because I want it to be all about building each other up to be women of noble character. Whether that’s through sharing thoughts, woman of the week posts or simply sharing my life, I hope you’ll join me on this journey.

With love,

Tip Tuesday: Iron-free Ironing