In Everything Give Thanks … EVERYthing

In every

It’s simple to thank God when He does miracles and answers prayers just the way we want them answered. It’s easy to thank Him when we look around and see many blessings in our lives. When our situation seems awful, or we’re struggling through tragedy or hard times, it can seem unbelievable that God is working for our good.

In her book The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom tells of a time she discovered that God was working even in the most horrific circumstances.   Corrie and her sister Betsie had been imprisoned by the Nazis for hiding Jews behind the wall of their Holland home, and Nazi prison conditions pretty well unbearable.

Corrie writes:  “Barracks 8 was in the quarantine compound. Next to us–perhaps as a deliberate warning to newcomers–were located the punishment barracks. From there, all day long and often into the night, came the sounds of hell itself. They were not the sounds of anger, or of any human emotion, but of a cruelty altogether detached: blows landing in regular rhythm, screams keeping pace. We would stand in our ten-deep ranks with our hands trembling at our sides, longing to jam them against our ears, to make the sounds stop.

“It grew harder and harder. Even within these four walls there was too much misery, too much seemingly pointless suffering. Every day something else failed to make sense, something else grew too heavy.”

Yet, in the midst of the suffering, the women prisoners around Corrie and Betsie found comfort in the little Bible studies they held in the barracks. Corrie writes they gathered around the Bible “like waifs clustered around a blazing fire…The blacker the night around us grew, the brighter and truer and more beautiful burned the Word of God.”

When they were moved to Barracks 28, Corrie was horrified by the fact that their reeking, straw-bed platforms swarmed with fleas. How could they live in such a place?   It was Betsie who discovered God’s answer:  “Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.”   That’s it, Corrie! That’s His answer. “Give thanks in all circumstances!”  That’s what we can do. We can start right now to thank God for every single thing about this new barracks!’

“I stared at her; then around me at the dark, foul-aired room…”

They thanked God for the fact they were together. They thanked God they had a Bible. They even thanked God for the horrible crowds of prisoners, that more people would be able to hear God’s Word. And then, Betsie thanked God for the fleas.

“The fleas! This was too much. ‘Betsie, there’s no way even God can make me grateful for a flea.’

‘”Give thanks in all circumstances,”‘ she quoted.  “It doesn’t say, “in pleasant circumstances.”  Fleas are part of this place where God has put us.”

“And so we stood between tiers of bunks and gave thanks for fleas. But this time I was sure Betsie was wrong.”    It turned out that Betsie was not wrong; the fleas were a nuisance, but a blessing after all. The women were able to have Bible studies in the barracks with a great deal of freedom, never bothered by supervisors coming in and harassing them. They finally discovered that it was the fleas that kept those supervisors out.

Through those fleas, God protected the women from abuse and harassment.  Dozens of desperate women were free to hear the comforting, hope-giving Word of God.  Through those fleas, God protected the women from much worse things and made sure they had their deepest, truest needs met.

We all have “fleas” in our lives. We all have those things that we can see no use for, things that are obviously horrible, unpleasant, painful things that we want gone.  No life is free of “fleas.”   We all have aggravations, inconveniences and pain.  If God can use fleas to protect Corrie and Betsie, He is fully capable of using difficult things to bless us.  God does care; God is working even when we are uncomfortable with or disappointed with life.   As we celebrate Thanksgiving Day, lets thank God for His constant care and provision, and for His hidden blessings that come in ways we can easily overlook.

“In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”  1 Thessalonians 5:18

Liam’s Mourning Has Turned To Dancing


About two years ago my friend Raechel informed me she was pregnant with her second child.  Raechel had difficulty getting pregnant, so she was ecstatic.  In time, through sonogram, it was discovered that Raechel and Joel would have a son joining them and their daughter.  Such joy!  That great joy soon was overshadowed by a tearful revelation.  Liam had club feet.

Many of us prayed for God to straighten Liam’s feet before he was born.  That did not happen, and I am not here to explain the “why” of that.  None of us knows.  Liam was faced with a long, painful battle in order to walk.

Liam had his first casting at two weeks old, and then a series of weekly castings for five weeks.  Another surgery was required at seven weeks, followed by double plaster/fiberglass casts for two weeks.  These casts covered the feet and went all the way up the thigh.  After a week cast-free, Liam was fitted for a Ponseti brace which he wore twenty-three hours a day for three months, followed by three months wearing the brace just at night.  Through pain, lots of waiting and continuing to strengthen his legs, Liam is now walking at seventeen and a half months old.  Though he had been bound by casts, and immobilized by braces, Liam never gave up trying to walk.  His parents shared a video of him running around the room grinning and laughing.  Liam’s mourning has turned to dancing.

Liam’s story is all of our stories in one way or another.  There are periods of mourning, and seasons of “how long, O Lord?”  Many of us have faced things that tried to stop our walk, or pain while trying to walk, or things that slowed our walk.  Like Liam, we must never give up.  We don’t understand all things, and it might seem our situation is changing too slowly.  It might seem that we will never have joy, but according to the Word of God, “Joy comes in the morning.”

There is healing beyond pain and the things that seem to immobilize us.  Night will give way to morning, and it could even be today.   This could be the day of great rejoicing for you.

Don’t give up.  Like Liam, with great laughter, we can dance and proclaim, “Thou hast turned my mourning into dancing!”

“You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.  You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy.”  Psalm 30:11

God Is Not Mad At You – He Is Mad About You

God is not mad

A blessed woman I am to be married to Gaylon Benton for the past forty-two years.  He is a kind, considerate and helpful husband.

Generally, I keep our house tidied up, but occasionally it has to be cleaned from top to bottom.  When that need arises, Gaylon steps right up to help me.  He always says, “That way we can both sit and enjoy life.”  What a guy!

Recently it was one of those days, and we divided up the responsibilities.  Something got lost in the communication.  I thoroughly cleaned our guest bath.  I scrubbed, polished, cleaned, swept and did it all.  After I was finished, Gaylon and I communicated about what else needed to be done.  I stated that I had finished the guest bath.  He said, “I already cleaned that bathroom.”  Ugh!  I knew it was the cleanest dirty bathroom I had ever seen. That morning I wasted a lot of time and energy trying to clean what had already been cleaned for me.

Too often in walking with God, many are unable to accept that we are cleansed because of the work of the cross.  It is not required for us to do seventy-eight things to cleanse ourselves.  We are saved through the Grace of God.  G-r-a-c-e is not a four letter word!  It is a beautiful five letter word.

Jesus paid it all
All to him I owe
Sin had left a crimson stain
He washed it white as snow

Stop trying to clean what God has already cleaned.  He’s not mad at you!  He is not!  He is actually mad about you!  Sit and communicate with Him, and listen carefully.  You will hear Him say, “I have already cleaned that!”

“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.”  Ephesians 2:8  

The Extra Mile


Because of his job my son had the drudgery of having to go to San Francisco for the week.  (Yes, that is said with much jealously and sarcasm!)   What an enjoyable time I am having in Baton Rouge visiting “my girls.”   Madison Benton knows that she is my favorite girl in the whole wide world.

It has been a wonderful experience to watch the daily schedule of my daughter-in-law Alica.    Alica is a first-grade teacher whose day begins very early.   By 6:00 each morning, Alica has showered and gotten dressed.  She heads downstairs to eat a quick breakfast, and get things together for the day.   Then she heads upstairs to awaken Madison and “Olivia” at 6:20.   By 6:40, it’s out the door for a long day.

For reasons we will never know, God only blessed Michael and Alica with one biological child.   They chose to open their home to children that needed a safe, loving environment which shields them from cares and pain that should not be on their shoulders.

“Olivia” is a foster child who has lived with Michael and Alica on several occasions.  I won’t go into all the reasons why Olivia has been removed from her home.  This time she has been here for several months, and it appears she will be here for a while.     Olivia is not a handful.  She is two handfuls with some spilling over!

Several months ago, Michael knew about this trip to San Francisco.  Originally, Alica planned to go with him for five days of enjoyment and fun.  That would have required that Olivia be in respite care.  Alica has had to make those arrangements a few times, but feels Olivia’s progress takes a hit; therefore Alica sacrifices her desires for the benefit of Olivia.  My heart has been moved by the love and care that Alica has for this child.  It’s all about touching Olivia’s life.  It’s about sacrificing for the good of a wounded human.  It’s about going the extra mile.

“And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him two.” – Matthew 5:41.  The word “compel” is the idea of “a readiness and willingness to submit to inconvenience.”

When did someone go the extra mile for you? When did someone go “above and beyond” what was expected in order to help you, welcome you, show you hospitality, comfort, or love?  Who cared enough to help you on your way?

It is easy to look at people who require that extra mile, and let out a big sigh!  The extra mile means sacrifice of my own desires and ease of schedule.  Two questions have bombarded my mind while I have been here.  Whose life have I changed because of my love and patience?  Whose life will I change because of walking the extra mile?

I have no crystal ball to see where Olivia will be in twenty years, but this I know, her opportunity of an abundant life has increased because someone was willing to go the extra mile.